Swedish ragers Martyrdöd, along with Acephalix and fellow countrymen Wolfbrigade, are the latest to be chosen in the great Southern Lord crust roundup. Featuring former and current members of Skitsystem, Agrmonia and others, Martyrdöd have been unleashing their brand of blackened everything to the crust-consuming masses for over a decade now. Their latest offering Paranoia was recorded at Göteborg’s famed Studio Fredman, the studio run by producer Fredrik Nordström and recording home to mediocre metal acts Dimmu Borgir, Arch Enemy, the increasingly less-relevant Opeth, and former luminaries like In Flames and Amon Amarth. Not surprising then, the record has a richer-sounding production value than Martyrdöd’s back catalog of stench on smaller labels like Havoc and Plague Bearer. That is not to say that fans of their mid-century masterwork In Extremis, will feel alienated by this; perhaps just a bit startled at first.
The most notable difference is how the guitars come across really clean. There is still the full-on power and blunt straightforwardness indicative of D-beat but it’s been polished up enough that listeners are allowed to hear the multitude of layers created by skilled axemen Pontus Redig and Mikael Kjellman—incorporating, among other things, aspects of punk, hardcore and classic Swedish death metal. In that same regard, the partition of instrumentation lets the rhythm section make its mark on the overall sound as well. Bassist Anton Grönholm and drummer Jens Bäckelin plod and pound their way through a thunderous Dis-laden low end backdrop. While the guitar work hints at it, it’s really the hateful and tortured vitriol of Kjellman’s vocal styling that adds a heavy dose of black metal to the mix. He furiously spews a poisonous snarl that sounds like he’s been gargling with ammonia and bleach—a distinction that longtime fans will recognize and appreciate. It all makes for a very dark and toxic landscape, in which Martyrdöd ascends the lordship.
Crust, and all that it infects—D-beat, grind, doom, etc.—is often times the amalgamating factor that unites metal heads and punk rockers. By that same token, it’s the quality of the production that can create the dividing line where crust becomes either too metal or too punk. Punk is best served by a raw inflammation of unharnessed potential and noise, whereas metal benefits from attention to detail, subtle nuance and skilful craftsmanship...or something. All that being said, what side of the fence this album lands on is a non sequitur because it has all those effects functioning in accordance—it’s metal, it’s punk, and it’s really fucking good. These Swedes are glistening a little more than usual; but far from being fully sanitized. With Paranoia Martyrdöd makes small strides towards large audience exposure, all the while keeping intact venom and unrefined sonic muscle that placed them atop of the indie crust heap years ago.
Sweden’s Martyrdöd are whole heap of metallic vitriol interspersed with a frenetic melody and more spiky riffs than you can shake a stick at. Furious and without mercy, latest record Paranoia is a crust-laden festival of punk-infused spite. Blackened hardcore at it’s very finest, Martyrdöd are here to rip your world apart with their insanely tight package of darkness and rage. Opener “Nog Är Nog” bursts with a whirling energy and Mikael Kjellman’s filthy black metal tinged vocal writhes with force and pure fucking contempt. Staying true to their Swedish roots in the groove of “Hör Världens Rop” and the obnoxious swagger of “Ett Hjärta Av Eld,” this band show no mercy and punish without discrimination.
Paronoia is as incensed as you’d expect from these forerunners of the crust/d-beat scene. The record itself is filthy as hell and the malice contained within rolls out in palpable waves of destruction yet Martyrdöd are adept at controlling this anger, never coming across as though they are preaching but as comrades in the eternal struggle of life.
Thrashing away with a wild abandon, Paranoia reeks of bile and intensity; the title track itself an enraged combination of taut riffs and boisterous momentum. Kjellman’s voice is laced with a venomous malevolence and Jens Bäckelin’s drums seem set to vanish in a hail of dust and ruin due to the absolute hammering he gives them. Paranoia does not stop for even a second, it is a constant hurricane of wanton annihilation and taking a moment to reflect is not a part of Martyrdöd's agenda. These guys are here to slay and they will not give you a chance to take a breath lest you miss their trail of devastation.
The closing track of Paranoia comes all too soon; the forty minute run time houses eleven anthems of obliteration and “Varje Val Har Sitt Pris” roils in scorn and defiance and is cut through with a somewhat gorgeous and soaring guitar riff that cuts through the derision with an infectious resonance. And then, it’s over. Paranoia is magnificent in its outrage. Do yourself a favour and revel in the misery all over again.
8.5 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
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