Archive for Martyrdöd

Review: Martyrdöd

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2019 by Magadh

Martyrdöd, Hexhammeren (Southern fuckin’ Lord)

I wrote somewhere, maybe here, that I always get kind of nervous when I hear that Martyrdöd are about to release a record. I can still remember when I first heard their classic In Extremis (2005), a record which rocked me as hard as anything crust record ever had. Ever since then I’ve been sort of waiting for them to drop off in quality. Sekt, released four years later, was good, but kind of didn’t live up to the earlier release. Paranoia was better but suffered from a bit of indistinctness that often happens to band that is tuned way down. Still, “Tragisk Zeitgeist” was a cut whose rage and power would not have been out of place on In Extremis. Eldop was great. List was better, especially the video for “Harmageddon,” with its footage of heroic women YPG fighters. Long story short, the bar for this band, at least in my estimation, could hardly be higher.

Hexhammeren opens with the title cut, a chugging, heal-damped jackhammer that gallops headlong into the darkness. The slightly more metallic picking style gives the music a different texture, swirling darkly underneath Martyrdöd’s signature melodic overlays. The second track, “Rännilar” (which I think means “rivulets” or something like that) gets back to the more mainline version of the band’s sound. But it is a pummelling track nonetheless, featuring yet another spiraling melodic line.

Since In Extremis, Martyrdöd have made their stock in trade the expression of the anger and sorrow of the world. That record was a barely contained explosion of rage and pain that seemed at all points ready to break the bounds of the recorded medium and to become manifest in the world, anguished and self-aware. Over successive releases, they have polished and refined their sound, but have never lost the edge of furious urgency of their early discs.

Something they’ve added to their repertoire since the release of List three years ago has been video accompaniment. The video for “Harmageddon” mentioned above was an excellent opening shot, juxtaposing footage of the band playing with clips of female YPG fighters doing the business against ISIS. This was particularly effective, not only demonstrating an interest in, and commitment to, actual struggles for actual justice, but also emphasizing the role of women in the ongoing struggle. The band themselves looked on the edge of desperation. Jens Bäckelin attacks his drum kit like a guy administering a beatdown to someone he hates from the old neighborhood.

The new disc is accompanied by videos for “Helveteslarm” and “Pharmacepticon”. The former is good, and has a slightly lighter tone than some of their other material. The latter gets back on model, showing dark and unsettling images over a chunky, mid-tempo cut with a melancholic melody, the sum total of which is quite unsettling.

The material on Hexhammeren constitutes a powerful reaffirmation of the validity of Martyrdöd’s approach. Songs like “Bait and Switch,” “Cashless Society,” and “Den Sista Striden” emerge like explosions of black flame, dripping with overdrive and raw emotion. Martyrdöd’s music is, in a sense, an aphotic apotheosis of crust as a genre, standing as a challenge to every other band to find new ways of fusing darkness and melody. Hexhammeren simply restates this challenge with the accustomed power and clarity.

Since their last record, they’ve had a bit of a lineup change, with Pontus Redig leaving and Tim Rosenqvist moving from bass to guitar. Filling his spot on bass is Daniel Ekeroth, formerly of Dellamorte and a bunch of other bands (and author of the definitive book on the early years of the Swedish death metal scene). So no worries there. If there’s anyone who knows how this music is supposed to sound, or how the bass fits into a band tuned down to somewhere around the key of C, it’s Ekeroth. If I hadn’t known this in advance, I wouldn’t have noticed the difference.

Maybe it’s something in the water. Or maybe they’re just all really depressed. For whatever reason, Sweden seems capable of producing a seemingly endless stream of devastating crust acts, and has been since the early 1980s. One can easily name a dozen such bands without thinking too hard, from Anti-Cimex and Crudes S.S., to Wolfpack and Skit System, and on to Myteri and Misantropic and myriad other groups churning out music that reflects the dark structures of life. Among these, Martyrdöd leads the charge, consistently delivering dark and punishing evidence of the world’s decay.

The world is going down the shitter. That is not news. But it is at least some comfort to be found in the capacity of bands like this to translate the sorrows of the world into forceful mixtures of light and darkness that have the power to block out the anguish of the lived crisis, at least for a moment.  

John from the Eastside

Review: Agnosy

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2019 by Magadh

Agnosy When Daylight Reveals the Torture Scream Records

Every few years the London crust band Agnosy drops another record. They seem to take a little longer between releases than some other bands, but it always seems like it’s worth the wait. When Daylight Reveals the Torture is no exception. As with their first two LPs (Past the Point of No Return and Traits of the Past), this new release is redolent with dark atmosphere. With each recording, Agnosy have managed increasingly complex song structures. They’re not the most melodic of crust bands. They don’t have the spiraling riffs of bands like Martyrdöd or Burning Bright, but they find their way to a happy medium between melody and hard-charging crust that works every time.

I like crust as a musical format, but I don’t find myself reviewing a lot of crust records, and it’s mostly because I don’t have a huge amount to say about them. It’s not hard to sound like Anti-Cimex, but that was then and this is now. So why is it that I find Agnosy so compelling? There are several reasons, but the most important is song structure. If you listen to In Extremis, Martyrdöd’s second record (and the one on which they really found their voice) what you hear is riffs that are longer and more complicated than those of Crude SS and their legion of imitators. This, by the way, is no slam on Crude SS, who were pioneers of crust in the same way as bands like (the aforementioned) Anti-Cimex, or Asocial, or Mob 47, or…well, you get the picture. Crust needed to develop stylistically and In Extremis was a step forward that moved the whole genre ahead.

Since then there have been a lot of very good crust records released, records that have picked up the gauntlet that Martyrdöd threw down. Some of you out there might be reading this and this that I’m getting the periodization wrong, forgetting bands like His Hero is Gone or From Ashes Rise or Tragedy. That’s a fair point, but I think that Martyrdöd’s riff structure is more complicated than any of those bands, much as they are all world-crushingly awesome. To my ears, Wretched of the Earth or Dark Circles are bands that have taken the idea of more complex riffs and song structures forward.

In any case, Agnosy have produced another absolutely raging disc, their best one yet by a ways, and that is really saying something. The guitar sound is crisp and clear, which is always a big question when you’re dealing with down-tuning. It tells you a lot that this disc was mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright. Boatright has made himself into the pre-eminent figure is this line of work by making bands sound awesome without necessarily making them sound like From Ashes Rise. Not that it would necessarily be a bad thing if they did, but his products manage to be both dark and clear in ways that manage to sound original rather than just being copies of what his band sounds like.

When Daylight Reveals the Torture is pretty close to an ideal crust record. It isn’t too long, clocking in around half an hour or so. It leaves the listener wanting more, not less. In a related vein, the song arrangements are good, reasonably complex without losing focus. One of the real failings of a lot of crust music is the need to rehash the same ideas over and over. If you’re going to do really simple riffs, the songs need to be short enough that the people listening aren’t looking at their watches by the end. It’s one thing when you’re playing live and can bludgeon the audience with sound. On record there is a lot to be said for shorter is better. The relatively more worked out structure of Agnosy’s riffs keeps interest quite nicely. The guitars are thick and guttural, but the retain enough tone to make the music sound bright, in a downtuned sort of way. Politically engaged lyrics are a plus, and the singer sounds kind of demented while still making identifiable words. Stylistically they sound a bit like slightly catchier version of Myteri (at least to my ear), or Instinto, or maybe a bit like Warcollapse, although the drumming is a little less far out. Anyway, this release is absolute quality and really stands head and shoulders above what is a very crowded crusty field just at the moment.

Crust/D-Beat Playlist

Posted in Playlists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by Magadh

We’ve been brewing up some weird stuff down in the bunker, but through the fumes it occurred to us that people might have an interest in what we were spinning in our long nights over the soilent vats. We’re going to try to offer up playlists on a bi-monthly basis, each with a thematic base. The theme here (as the title indicates) is a combination of crust and d-beat.  Discerning listeners will note that there are a couple of things in this list that are a bit marginal in terms of these categories, but I think they fit in terms of atmosphere. In the end, it’s up to you to decide.


1. Skitsystem, “Apokalypsens Svarta Änglar
2. Martyrdöd, “Vägen Ur
3. From Ashes Rise, “The Final Goodbye
4. Hellcrawler, “Devastation
5. Infäme, “Adeu Amarg
6. After the Bombs, “Bloody Aftermath
7. Monastery, “Mutilating
8. Passiv Dödshjalp, “Virtuella Bojor
9. Viimeinen Kolonna, “Sinä Häviät
10. Livstid, “Permafrost
11. Misantropic, “Raise the Gallows
12. G-Anx, “Victims of Our Ignorance
13. Instinto, “Dominación
14. Crude S.S., “Destroy Capitalism
15. Anti-Cimex, “Braincell Battle
16. Final Warning, “The Bunker
17. Disfear, “Misanthropic Generation
18. Warcollapse, “Timebomb State
19. Mördare, “Rivers of Diesel
20. Masakari, “Rapid Dominance
21. Kvoteringen, “Sjuk Värld
22. Discharge, “Doomsday
23. Infernöh, “Länge Leve Mig
24. Wolfpack, “A Basic Urge to Kill
25. Sacrilege, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Magadh

Review: Passiv Dödshjälp

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2013 by Magadh

Passiv Dödshjälp Kollektiva Mönster Embrace My Funeral Records

pd coverI discovered Passiv Dödshjälp in one of those beautiful moments of internet serendipity in which I was looking for something else. As I recall, I was trying to dig up some information on their fellow Swedes Totalt Jävla Mörker when I stumbled on to an upload of Passiv Dödshjälp’s crushing 2010 release Häng Dom in the indiscriminate vastness of the web. There could hardly be a better advertisement for modern Swedish crust. Simple and aggressive licks dripping with overdrive, spun over a background of thundering drums and a vocalist who really sounds like he’s on the verge of a psychotic break. The songs on Häng Dom are mostly mid-paced. In those moments when they slowed down the music retains its punch, sounding at times like Tragedy’s more downtempo material. This was straight Swedish crust in a d-beat sort of mode, one which for the most part eschewed the melodicism associated with bands like Wolfpack and Martyrdöd in Europe, and with acts like From Ashes Rise on this side of the Atlantic.

Intrigued by this, I sought out their other releases. At the time these included a blistering split with Bergen’s Livstid, and a second full album from 2011 entitled Fasader. This latter release reflected a slightly more melodic approach than its predecessor. What followed, 2012’s Skit På Repeat 7”, was a trip to a much gloomier place. For fans of Häng Dom this was meat and drink. The stylistic theory was much the same as on the first LP, but the sound and atmosphere were if anything darker and angrier than on the earlier release. As on Häng Dom, the songs tended to be built around single string lines structured to accentuate impact rather than melody.

On Kollektiva Mönster, Passiv Dödshjälp’s latest recording, the theory has changed somewhat. The compositions are based around chords to a rather greater degree than on previous releases. A rather more rocking influence seems to have taken hold, with some of the songs reminding one more of bands like Kvoteringen or Fleshrevels than of the darker Swedish crust that marked their earlier style. Still the essentials remain: angry vocals, bludgeoning drums, and that razors-through-flesh guitar sound for which the Swedes seem to have a special talent. There are a lot of shorter songs on this release, but the pick of the litter is “Virtuella Bojor”, which clocks in at over four minutes and is rocking and aggressive all the way along.

In this day and age it is a little shocking to me that so few people outside of Scandinavia seem to know about these guys. Kollektiva Mönster is an excellent introduction to their work: an illustration of the aggression and dark atmosphere that have been the hallmarks of Swedish crust for so long. Andreas tells me that the disc itself won’t be out until sometime in July, so start saving your pennies because you will definitely want to get this when it hits the distros.

Magadh

Review: Martyrdöd

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Magadh

Perhaps no event has been so eagerly awaited here in the bunker as the arrival of the Paranoia, the new disc from those masters of Swedish d-beat, Martyrdöd. Those in that microset of humanity who actually read this blog with regularity will know that there is an obsession with Martyrdöd among the editorial staff here that really borders on the pathological. Imagine, then, the paroxysms of joy that arose when this disc found its way through the mail slot.

Having said all that, there was also a sort of trepidation at its arrival. This stemmed from the fact that Sekt, the band’s previous outing, had not quite lived up to the standard set by its predecessor. This is, in a certain sense, hardly a very trenchant criticism. In Extremis (2005) was a watershed moment in the history of Swedish d-beat. A new standard had been set. It was almost inevitable that whatever followed it was going to be something of a letdown.

Perhaps the difference between the two discs can be described as follows. The brilliance of In Extremis was that the way that it combined melody with extremes of downtuning. By my calculations, the guitars on In Extremis were tuned down to B (either that or they were using some sort of drop tuning but you get my point). As numerous bands have heretofore discovered, tuning down that far runs the risk of turning the music into indecipherable mush. Although the guitars on In Extremis could be a bit indistinct, they created a dark maelstrom over which the second guitar then spiraled compelling minor key melodies. These seemed to emerge out of a churning fog of d-beat thrash. Added to this was the fact that the melodies themselves often comprised six measures, rather than four, and the extra time that they took to resolve added a compelling tension to the music.

On Sekt, released four years later, many of the same features were in evidence. It seemed, however, that they were trying to move forward stylistically. Part of my problem with Sekt, from a personal perspective, was that I just didn’t like the riffs as much. That is a purely subjective assessment. From a more objective perspective, there was it was clear that the song structures were somewhat different than they had been on In Extremis. “En Demon” is a good example of this. The first thing that one notices is that the beat is a straight thrash tempo rather than the sort of the bracketed beat typical of d-beat drumming. The dark guitars churn away in their accustomed fashion, and after a while one hears one of Martyrdöd’s typical dark melodies. However, it is a more typical four bar melody and it disintegrates relatively quickly into a more straight ahead rock lead.

This is just one example, and there are many others that could be adduced. The point is not that Sekt is a bad record. Rather, it had the misfortune of having been released after a great record. If it had followed Martyrdöd’s self-titled first album, it might have looked a bit better. But it wasn’t, and it is what it is (or it was what it was). In any case, how then does Paranoia stack up?

Quite well as a matter of fact. Martyrdöd has managed to advance stylistically, while still retaining the features that made them great in the first place. There is a much more pronounced metallic influence in terms of style and production on Paranoia than on previous releases, but not the extent that it effaces the underlying hardcore impulse. The guitars are still tuned way down, but there is a crispness to the production not in evidence on earlier releases. The melodic overlays on Paranoia are far superior to those found on its predecessor, and rather than swelling out of a dark cloud, they now sit majestically atop precise and crushing riffage. The other elements that lifted Martyrdöd above the run of d-beat acts are strongly represented; from the jackhammer drumming to the singer who sounds like he’s shouting last words before his execution.

Verily, this is a record whose strains will be echoing around the hallways of the bunker for many weeks to come. It’s always really nice to hear a great band explore something new within a style that they have mastered. Martyrdöd have (once again) thrown down the gage to the d-beat bands thrashing in the ruins of the world? Who, then, will take it up?

Magadh

Things You Should Know

Posted in Heads Up with tags , , , , on July 6, 2012 by Magadh

First, a brief apology for the inconsistent posting this week. It has been a difficult week in terms of power here at the Thousand Trivs bunker. Frequent outages over the last couple of days have required repeated expeditions to the roof of the southern pod in an attempt to effect repairs. As this particular region is prone to storms, extreme heat, and the depredations of hordes of wandering zombies, one can easily imagine that this has taken a lot of time and energy (and bullets).

The power flow has been restored, no thanks, frankly, to the efforts of the Captain of Games. Somehow he always seems to be on extended reconnaissance sweeps when the dirty work needs to get done.

In any case, it is our goal to have new content every day and, assuming my jury rigging of the condensers on the south ridge was successful, we should be in business with the appropriate regularity.

While I am here, I thought I might provide a couple of bits and bobs until we fully have our shit together. I was talking briefly with Greg from Masakari after their blistering set at Now That’s Class the other night. He told me two interesting things. The first was that he actually plays in a drop C tuning. Yeah, I know that’s not really that interesting to those of you who aren’t musically inclined. For those who are, I will say that I spent a lot of time at the Masakari shows that I have seen watching him and trying to figure out what kind of tuning he was playing. Drop C explains a lot of things.

The second thing that he mentioned was the From Ashes Rise were playing again and had a new record coming out. I have a lasting fascination with those guys, not just because they’ve put out some absolutely devastating music, but also because they moved to Portland several months after I left and I really felt kind of cheated by that. Their new 7” is called Rejoice in the End and is available from the good people at Southern Lord . The A side, which is all I’ve heard so far is a bit more metal tinged that their Nightmare’s era stuff. “Rejoice in the End” is slower, but lacking none of the melody and punch of FAR’s classic releases.

I read the other day that Napalm Death had a new record out. It’s on Century Media and it’s called Utilitarian. I’m tempted to get it even though their records since From Enslavement to Obliteration have generally left me kind of cold. I think it’s that ticky tacky drum sound that was pioneered at Morrissound in Tampa during the early 1990s and kind of took over death metal. Then of course there’s the fact that there are currently zero original members left in the band. Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t let minutiae get in the way. The guy from metalsucks.net seems to like it (he gave it 4 out of 5 horns) and generally they are a pretty critical bunch over there.

And finally, a copy of the latest Martyrdöd offering Paranoia has recently shown up around the bunker, so we’ll have a review of that in the next couple of days.

Magadh

Review: Sarabante

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on June 5, 2012 by Magadh

Sarabante Remnants Southern Lord

I’ve been trading notes lately with an old friend of mine from college. This fellow, much brighter than myself, is part of the brains trust behind Souciant Magazine. We were discussing the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. Souciant had just run a piece about them , and I was mentioning to him that we had been meaning to review their CD, but that we kind of felt that we had done so much about Southern Lord releases already that it would kind of look like we were their media wing.

And then of course, there was the fact just mentioned that Souciant had just run a piece about them. That pretty much had me set on the idea that we should leave it alone. Then a couple of things occurred to me. As is their wont, Souciant’s article on Sarabante was, in fact, about the broader political situation in Greece right now. A review from us, which is bound to be more focused on purely stylistic aspects, probably isn’t going to cover all that much of the same territory. Perhaps more importantly, it struck us that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to give those guys a little added publicity, to the extent getting a link in one of our articles would do that.

Ok, so long story short, here are a few words about Sarabante.

A few months ago, I perusing Southern Lord’s website when I saw a listing for the latest CD by the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. One line caught my eye: “The band was brought to the attention of Southern Lord by Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise.” Well, that is a pretty sold recommendation from my perspective. From Ashes Rise were, for many years, the leading figures in the melding of the European d-beat style with a more melodic approach. While one could hear this in European bands like Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade, Disfear, and, somewhat later Martyrdöd (to name only a very prominent few). Perhaps memory fails, but I can’t remember hearing anything very similar to this from North America before running across their Concrete and Steel 12” in the late 1990s. Ok, maybe you could say that His Hero is Gone might be comparable, but you get my point.

Nowadays, this particular style, which is very close to our hearts here in the bunker, is much more readily available in these parts (c.f. our forthcoming review of Cleveland’s oh-so-crushing Masakari). In Europe, and once again I’m speaking very general terms here, there seem a lot more bands doing this, especially in the wake of Martyrdöd’s pathbreaking In Extremis CD in 2005. Martyrdöd really raised the bar. Not only was their approach to d-beat alloyed with a sharp and moving sense of melody, but the structures of their songs were somewhat more complex, adding extra bars onto the normally square d-beat riffs. One can hear echoes of this approach in the work of bands like Münster’s Alpinist, as well as in Sarabante’s melodic d-beat stylings.

Remnants is a crushingly powerful record. It’s no surprise that Brad Boatright dug these guys, as the melodies that shape their songs would not have been out of place on any From Ashes Rise release from Nightmares onward. Similar to Martyrdöd, these young Athenians use riffs that tend to be a little bit longer than the d-beat norm. They are heavily downtuned for sure and this gives their music a metallic heaviness that acts as an effective counterpoint to the melodic overlays that give Sarabante’s music its distinctive feel.

Apparently they have been on a bit of a hiatus and have only recently started gigging again. The vinyl edition of Remnants was really limited and must certainly be sold out now, but the CD version can be had from the Southern Lord website, and it can be directly downloaded from Emusic and similar sites.

Magadh