Posted by: Necci – May 02, 2012
When reviewing records, it can be really easy to get overwhelmed. Wading through piles and piles of albums that just sound the goddamn same in order to find some gleaming bit of humanity can be soul-crushing in its tedium. I could review shitty things, giving them appropriately shitty reviews, but both my time and the reader's time are far too valuable for that. Just because most music sucks doesn't mean there aren't worthwhile things to champion. But those moments when something great finds its way to the review pile are glorious. The most recent example, the newest release by Swedish crust/metal veterans Martyrdöd, was enough of a pleasant surprise to elicit a loud “fuck yeah” from me – a rarity when it comes to these things. Martyrdöd's earlier albums rule, pretty much the perfect combination of crusty hardcore and black metal, and thankfully Paranoia is no exception.
The first thing I noticed in the description is that it was recorded in the same studio used by Opeth and Amon Amarth, which sent up a few red flags. One of the things that helped define Martyrdöd's previous albums was a rough, in-the-red recording that didn't gloss over the ugliness of their sound – whether that took the form of the pounding low-end of In Extremis or the more treble-inclined Sekt – so the fear that a fancier studio might compromise some of that brutality is justifiable. The first eighty seconds of opener “Nog Är Nog” don't assuage concerns, with harmonized guitars that are considerably more melodic than anything the band had previously attempted. But, after the fast part kicks in, any concerns that Martyrdöd had softened their approach should be completely assuaged and, though the resulting production job is definitely clearer than on previous albums, and there seems to be a slightly more nuanced songwriting approach, their ferocity remains intact.
What Martyrdöd does isn't unprecedented by any stretch of the imagination – plenty of bands have tackled heavy, crusty hardcore and plenty have incorporated black metal elements, but few have done it with the panache that Martyrdöd has. Theirs is a wall of sound, one that apparently can't be tamed by fancy recording studios – but it's one with personality. There are parallels with other bands, but they manage to sound like themselves more than anybody else (which may not seem like much of a compliment, but when it comes to music like this, it is). Twisted bursts of acrid melody spray like shrapnel over a non-stop pummeling low-end, and vocals howl like a deranged and wounded beast. It's an unsubtle, unrelenting, and unstoppable punk-metal monster that's feral in its intensity without losing any of the subtle sophistication of the song structures. Paranoia isn't a surprising album at all despite a few minor tweaks, but it's Martyrdöd through and through, a fact for which anybody who's into music that's essentially the audio equivalent of a brutal ass-beating should be thankful.
By Graham Scala