get a pleasant surprise when you least expect it; used to the low-quality
of most of the recent releases, I thought of a flat and not involving
album as Malta is more known for a long-time Death metal scene. Yet
this overpopulated island counts not many bands actually, of which the
most important are Abnoba, Abysmal Torment, Achiral, Angelcrypt, Anhedonia,
Apotheosis, Arachnid, Archaean Harmony, Beheaded, Biblical Infamy, Enshroud,
Forsaken, Hemlock, Hydra, Ktinodia, Norm Rejection, Oblique Vision,
Sceptocrypt, Slit, Stench of Necropsy, Vandals, Weeping Silence and
Martyrium, the only Black metal band as far as I'm aware.
They wouldn't have competitors even if there were 40 other groups dealing
with the same genre, since their debut proves to be a top-notch record
from the beginning, as to arranging, lyrics (concerning satanism, infanticide,
religious rites and oppression, insanity, cruelty and death galore)
The intro "Insanity Dancing with Crimson Tides" is
a mix of voices and reminds me of a mad and brakeless village feast
with all that derives from that; it's a good prelude to "The
Ebon River Princess", elegant vicious specimen of diabolical
Black alà Cradle of Filth; excellent is the entwining among keyboards,
drums and vocals, as well as the fairy-tale break followed by soft female
vocals sliding on velvet keyboards lines till the end; a final mention
to the superlative and technical passages, rich of mysterious and majestic
"Chrysanthemum" makes you think of luxury and spectrality
at the same time hovering during the serene moments, whereas the distorted
ones contain quite brutal Death vocals. The spine-thrilling screams
return alternating with symphonic woman's vocals on the trail of Nightwish
and with growls. The previous song is the highlight of the album, but
this one reveals a more elaborated songwriting capacity and we don't
have to omit citing the superb funereal keyboards lines in the central
part as well.
Rife with symbols and veiled allusions, "Eden (The Divine Entrap)",
grows gradually until grafting a total Death riff and a good bass work;
very precise the feminine vocals by La Marquise DeSade; at a certain
point even declamatory male vocals show up, and so do they in the next
The plam of more atmospherical composition by merit goes to "The
Hatred Cornucopia", initially opened by morbid keyboards lines.
To the inspired DeSade's vocals sobs and trillings are added; the male
vocals are razor-blade-like but the mistake is in the too low mixing.
"Restrained in Demonic Gyves" melts Death, Black and
baroque keyboards patterns, evocative clean male vocals, sighed ones
and female tender vocals once again; of course there also screams and
growlings, yet the peak of the song resides in the 3/4 drum beats.
The longer and hopeless composition, "Promises",contains
liturgical keyboards and a deadly, gloomy break; together with the lyrics,
I can't but think about Pupi Avati's great 1996 flick, "The
Arcane Enchanter", a movie I strongly suggest you look for.
I have to admit it's the song I like a tad less and maybe it's because
it's the older one; it was composed in 1999, while the others were produced
in a session in 2002, therefore it may be deducted a relevant progression
in the band's results, also due to a few line-up variations.
Finally, "Tears from the Demented Heart" offers a synthetized
sax at the head and tail; it's dejected, mournful and wintry, and that
also owing to its majority of instrumental parts. Absolutely the deign
closure of teh album, nevertheless unsuitable for the live shows, for
it's too diverse from the rest of the material.
Martyrium strive to sound personal and keep the attention high often
enough. The main faults of this however warmly recommended first album
are clearly the usage of a few drum sounds of low quality and the lack
of lyrics, which need to be downloaded from their website. As said before,
they are ably written, and although there are no anthem-songs here,
it remains a shame that they can't be integrated in the booklet.
If you started with Cradle of Filth to move on to Norwegian Black metal,
elitaire Black metal, minimal Thrash/Black metal of the old school (Mayhem)
or the new one (bands from the Moribund Cult roster) and forsook this
niche of Black metal claiming 'it sucks but it's good to commence',
you might find fairly interesting passages in any event. On the other
hand, if you crave for skillful and crushing vampiric symphonic Black
metal with ear-perforating vocals, you'll love "Withering..."
and probably buy the second CD too.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th July 2005