Martyr – Extracting the Core: Live 2001

martyr-extracting_the_core_live_2001

Coming from the French-Canadian progressive metal powerhouse that later loaned members to Gorguts, Extracting the Core shows us Martyr playing a live set of their classic works. Before you wince: this is one of the better-produced live albums available such that it is indiscernible from a good but not excellent studio job; all instruments are clear and mixed in a way that fits expectations of studio recordings, and crowd noise is minimal. As a live album, it preserves everything you might want to hear from a band on record or live with a bit of extra energy in the vocals as musicians trying to cram ten thousand notes into six-minute songs howl at the audience with a high rate of exertion. The real question regards the style of this musically-erudite band, which brings up the question of poetry versus burritos.

A burrito, as you may know, is one of nature’s most perfect foods. A wrap of flour and lard encloses ingredients ranging from guacamole, pico de gallo, and carne asada to Spanish rice, sour cream and refried beans, and the whole thing is then consumed with the aid of delicious picante and verde sauces. What makes a burrito excellent is that instead of choosing what to have for dinner, you have everything, but in a form more convenient even than a sandwich. One cannot praise this Mexican-Spanish-Texican-Californian dish enough. But when composing metal, it becomes a brutal force. As Socrates tells us, all events have causes. What is the cause of a song? One either intends it to tell a story, or assembles a few musical theories into contrasting elements and makes a burrito of it. As with the burrito, uniqueness is lost in favor of a kind of sameness of differentness, where each song has everything and the kitchen sink, but over time — much like the constant pounding brutality of early Napalm Death or later Suffocation-inspired bands — it all starts to become the same, different variants of essentially an identical idea. With a poem, the form of the song and techniques used reflect the content; with a burrito, the content of the song reflects the need to include many different things in the form. You can analogize to variety shows, pluralism, unitarianism, and even Christianity itself — a compilation of a dozen religions, mostly Greek, Hindu, Jewish, Nordic, Babylonian and Egyptian — if you feel the need. But the point is that while the burrito pleases everyone, it does not achieve the distinctive expression that makes a song evocative of experience, thought or perception, which is what makes a poem or song stand out. It feels like something you have encountered, or something you wish to, and more than creating a solid impression it creates a space of balanced parts ambiguity and clarity, which makes you want to launch into it and battle for the beautiful to win out over the mundane, boring, pointless, directionless and entropic. In a burrito, this space does not exist because it is being used to hold all those delicious ingredients together.

Extracting the Core overflows with delicious ingredients. Head shredder Daniel Mongrain may be one of the most interesting guitarists in popular music. His jazz-influenced leads — this means dialing back the simplicity of rock music and accepting more complex harmony and corresponding technique — both display impressive technique and the ability to write a melodic solo with multiple emotions. All instruments show great proficiency, from the adept technical drumming that avoids overshadowing other instruments, to a subtle but present bass and complex riffing with difficult time signatures all nailed perfectly. The problem is the means by which this band composes: requiring a burrito means that a band must default to, at the core of each song, the simplest possible construction which can include all of its elements. When the randomness is removed, what remains is a simple speed metal song, with Meshuggah-style abrupt off-beat (as opposed to cadenced, like Metallica) speed metal riffing that alternates with hard rock and thinly-disguised jazz fusion riffs.

Essentially, this album is Pantera after music graduate school, much as Meshuggah simplified Suffocation and Exhorder and then amplified the degree of texture at oddball timings to produce their overrated material. While it is mournful to admit this, it kills the album and makes the listening experience one of tuning out the over-dramatic and busy riffing to get to the solos. In addition, in order to support the burrito, Martyr adopt many different voices of composition, from Supuration-style alternative-progressive metal to nearly hardcore, and the result injects further randomness. It would be better, as Gorguts did, to give this band a song template varied enough to tempt them but purposeful enough to channel these energies toward more musical profundity through instantial contrast in a prolonged and developing narrative.

burrito

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Martyrdöd – Elddop

martyrdöd-elddop

Coming from the fusion of d-beat crust, hard rock and melodic heavy metal, Martyrdöd demonstrate a greater ability to write songs than your average underground band, both through musical knowledge and the instinct to know how to complete a song convincingly. The problem that appears out of the chaos is that these are basically all the same song since the band has such a broad approach that making it successful requires narrowing the eventual product.

Songs start over the high-speed Disfear-style modified d-beat that is played more rigidly than its original UK inspiration and so fosters a healthy environment for driving music, which Elddop offers in mixed metal and bluesy hard rock riffs for verses and At the Gates style melodic twists and turns for choruses. Over this the vocalist approximates a decent black metal vocal with varied emphasis except at the end of each phrase where he reverts to hardcore phrasing to emphasize the rhythmic hook. It is not unpleasant to listen to, and thanks to the superior musical abilities of these players is in fact a bit of fun, but it lacks anything to make a listener pick this album up again. Martyrdöd does not nail a certain feeling, a moment, an experience or an idea but rather makes sonic wallpaper of the intersection of ideas in a single experience of vague resistance but basically a desire for some hard rock riffs in a new form.

Naturally this opinion will be controversial because it is hard to argue with the better musical knowledge on this album. But in art, as in music, technical knowledge is a means to an end, and when it becomes an end in itself, it eclipses the purpose of art which is to communicate a profound realization in an aesthetically pleasing way. Elddop nails aesthetically pleasing, but by doing so in the empty aggregate intersection of many styles, creates merely a high-tech form of elevator music with crust and metal flavoring.

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Morpheus Descends to return at Martyrdoom Festival

return_of_morpheus_descendsOne of the original death metal bands, Morpheus Descends made heavy old school death metal during the hazy transition between 1980s and 1990s styles, preferring a slower and resonantly crushing approach to their percussive music just as most bands were opting for faster and more technical work.

With 1992’s Ritual of Infinity, the band showed the culmination of their early demos and live appearances in an album that came to define not only old school death metal, but become the example of the New York Death Metal sound: industrial textures, crushing rhythm changes, primitive riffs in complex combinations.

Many of us who uncovered Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten remember seeing Terrance Hobbes wearing a Morpheus t-shirt. As it turns out, there was another Morpheus who wanted the name; history doesn’t mention them much. Morpheus Descends kept going and influenced all of American and European death metal.

After Ritual of Infinity, Morpheus Descends went on to release two more EPs of a technical nature before disbanding. Now at the Martyrdoom II Festival, where Morpheus Descends will perform at a club called Paper Box on 17 Meadow Street in Brooklyn on June 29th, we will see what this band has been up to in the intervening years.

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Interview: Francois Mongrain (Martyr)

Many people gush over later Death but really, it’s pretty predictable heavy metal done up “Death Metal and Yet, Prog-Rock” style; for a band that takes the best of jazz-and-prog-rock influences and puts them into rhythmically adept yet vicious death metal, try Québec’s Martyr. They don’t aim for anything new, but do everything in a new way, in the process contributing some of the fastest, most intricate and harmonically aware metal lead playing ever heard on this earth.

Interview originally from Heidenlarm e-zine #3.

How much do you think death/black metal were influenced by prog rock in the 1970s?

I’m not sure… I think some bands were influenced by classical music,some other from rock, blues, jazz, and some other by contemporary and progressive music. It depends of the influences of each musicians, what they like, what they listened.

Was prog rock a movement that came about by chance, or was there a reason for rock bands going technical so close to the birth of rock music?

I think it’s the need to explore and create more satisfying stuff.

There are two basic ways of looking at music. In the first, there is a mechanism to the arrangement of certain tones (such as “a diminished melodic pattern modulating to a flattened second”); in the second, a narration occurs where a story is told or a poetic function completed. In your view of compositions, which is more important?

I think the first one is a tool to help the second one. Personnally, great arrangements alone are pointless if they deliver no message. The message through music is the most important thing. If there’s any,better stop doing music.

Do you think most prog rock uses narrative structures, which reveal a poetry or story, or cyclic structures?

Definitely. They brings us in other worlds, it is like a fantasy movie,a dream, etc.

What bands inspired the direction that martyr took?

Some band gave some inspiration, but did not inspired the direction. We try to do it our own way.

What for you is the significance of the name, “Martyr”?

Martyr is a way of thinking, is a state of mind, a way of life. It’s the acceptance of suffering for the beliefs of some ideals, the cause of a better world that can hardly be reached because the world as we know it is too sick.

Like a certain other Canadian band of great brilliance, you focus on technology in your concept and lyrical writing. Is this something brought on by its imminence in all of our lives, or for symbolic reason?

Maybe it’s because of the technology’s omnipresence in our society, but when I write lyrics, I try to use symbols to say other things. The technologic symbols in the song Retry? Abort? Ignore? are to represent the human brain when reaching its endurance limit, when it’s about to disconnect, like a burn out or other illness.

If you could tour with other bands in metal, who would you pick if you were looking for bands similar to Martyr?

Maybe Spyral Architect, Meshuggah, Voivod, The Dillinger Escape Plan…maybe there would be some more.

What is the most difficult part about composing songs as you do?

The most difficult part is to make the music flow as it was written in one shot. We try to avoid the riff-riff collage that too many bands are doing. We try to compose as naturally as possible.

While Martyr has a high tech sound and conceptual approach, often your music seems closer to progressive heavy metal in the 1970s style, with more of the merger between avantgarde and progressive that has occurred in the more novelty-based recent decades. Is this true, and how do you see yourselves as differentiating on an artistic level from the other bands in this time?

Our progressive inpiration is not really a concious thing… we write what we have in mind, that’s it.

How do you compose songs as a band?

Main riffs, melodies, etc are written individually. When we rehearse, we make a lot of arrangement, we find more ideas. The composer of a song has ideas for the other instruments, but everybody bring their ideas.

Do you think people collaborate more effectively with a leader or as a ground-up leaderless project?

A “leader” is good to give directions for a project, but if this leader imposes too much his ideas, it’s not good at all and ruins the members relationship.

What other bands from Québec do you enjoy?

Cryptopsy, Obliveon (rip), Neuraxis, Gorguts, Voivod, there are so many!

Which do you think is most important to metal, harmony, melody or arrangement?

Hehehe…. it depends of the situation. Most important is: Did I succeded in the delivery of my message?

What do you feel is the role of lead guitar in a well-written song?

Soloing is a peak in a song, as a drum fill is another kind of peak. I don’t see any instrument that would be more important that another.

As individual members, what are your philosphies regarding the degree of importance death should be accorded in our lives?

Death is unavoidable. So we must live with it. I read samurai philosophy. Death was a concept so present for them that they lived with this reality day and night. They could die or kill an ennemy at every moment. In the modern life, in most civilized countries, we don’t have this reality except for cancer, accidents, etc. But the more you are conscient of your inevitable death, the more you’ll be aware of everymoment of your life, and it may make it happier.

What thing scares human civilization most at this time?

Our fear of war, oppression, etc, are caused by our lack of control over these situations. We are really powerless as individuals.

Do you think it is possible, as many thinkers allege, that humans exist in a world of language “containers” and philosophical justification, and thus do not often come into contact with the “real” existence, which is undefinable and hard to communicate socially as regards any significance within it?

People are afraid to talk about their existence, their death, their origin, etc. So, society hide itself in the more trivial things as videogames, buying clothes, watching movies and joking all the time. These are all good, but not when they serves as masks and crutches. (I’m not sure if I answered right your question!)

Who were the most important thinkers in history for you?

I’m not an history guy, but I like a lot Miyamoto Musashi, the most famous samurai in japan feudal history. His obsession with death is amazing and scaring at the same time. At these times, death was a daily preoccupation as eating, sleeping and buying food.

One who is a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind — the fact that he has to die. If he is always mindful of this, he will be able to live in accordance with the paths of loyalty and filial duty, will avoid myriads of evils and adversities, keep himself free of disease and calamity and moreover enjoy a long life. He will also be a fine personality with many admirable qualities. For existence is impermanent as the dew of evening, and the hoarfrost of morning, and particularly uncertain is the life of the warrior…

– Code of the Samurai

What do you think defines metal as music, as a genre, and as a subculture?

When you put some notes together, rhythm and vocals, it is called music. The way each person do it makes the style, and if some people likes it, you have the subculture. Sound silly but I don’t know how to explain it better. ;-)

Which is the role of religion during our current age, and how much do you think it influences politics and government?

Religion is powerless in front of politics. it’s a good thing and a bad thing in the same time. Religion have bad concepts but good ideals in the same time. Politics have no moral ethics. I don’t care for politics. I know nothing about this and I’m proud to say this. It stinks. >:-)

Death metal has intense variety, between Morpheus Descends and Demilich and Asphyx and Martyr; what holds these bands together in the same genres?

I don’t konw these bands ! LOL Can you send me a copy? Should be interesting!

When death metal gets technical, does it necessarily get closer or further from other mainstream genres, or does it stand on its own in a different depth?

I’m not sure about this. Technique is only a tool to transmit a message. I hate technical music that tries only to impress.

What allows music to be separated into “genres,” when all of it uses roughly the same theoretical basis (excepting the different theory required for use of different scales, etc)?

The sound? the song structures? The vocal style? The look and attitude???? Maybe a little of each one.

As the market for metal slows down, and the mainstream comes closer with heavy stuff that’s still very commercial like Slipknot or Korn, do you think metal will mutate into a new style?

No. Mainstream bands are good because their fans will sooner or later be interested in more heavy stuff. We all began to listen to less heavier stuff. They are like a bridge that leads to the real metal.

If you could hope for metal to change as a whole in any way, including its basic form, what would you desire of it?

I’d like that there would be less bands, especially less bad bands. Anyone can take a guitar, make up some shitty riffs and create a band. Go practice before! ;-) I’d like that the lyrics would be more intelligent. That it would not beany shit and crap in the artwork of cds. These things are really not good for the reputation of metal.

If a holy war (crusade vs jihad) breaks out in the Middle East, how do you think it will affect the way most people view metal, and the way most metalheads view religious people?

I don’t know. There’s no crusade, it’s just propaganda from the middle-east. I’m sure of one thing: Most religions are not bad things. The bad thing is what people do with religion: quest for power, glory, tyranny, fanaticism.

One big problem in thought today is “individualism”; it seems everybody wants to make novelty of their own lives, and not many people want to band together and agree on things to allow change to occur; what do you think is the next major ideology “for most people” beyond “individualism”?

Union make force. Everyone wants their piece of cake. It leads to nothing. It’s the problem of most modern societies. In Japan, individualism doesn’t exist. It’s unthinkable. No doubt about why they are one of the most organized countries.

Are you a materialist, or do you believe there is a life beyond this one, or any supernatural space/beings/life at all?

I believe in life after death. I don’t judge others about this, as it’s a personnal belief. I can’t tell how I see this afterlive, as I never seen it yet! :-) So I don’t want to imagine anything, for not being disapointed! :)

When you compose as a band, do you think in terms of scale patterns, or are your melodies more granular?

Harmonies are very important. That’s the most important thing to transmit emotions. So I think in chords first (then breaks the chord tomake melodies). Scales and patterns are just tools.

What do you do as individual band members to relax, when not working on music?

I read a lot, I do computers, and I practice martial arts a lot (6 days a week!)

Do you use standard tuning?

Yep. On a 6 strings bass : b-e-a-d-g-c Guitars : they use stardard tuning on Hopeless Hopes. On Warp Zone, they use standard tuning and drop D tuning. On the New songs, they try D tuning with drop C.

If I forgot anything, please insert it in here.

I apreciate the interview, very elaborated and interesting questions! Hope to play in your area soon!

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Le berceau de Satan – Porteur de lumiere (2017)

Ahhh, Canada, America’s hat. And then there is Quebec, Canada’s ass-neck. Today’s band, Le berceau de Satan (Cradle of Satan) hails from the beautiful town of Sanguenay, Quebec. Looking at some pictures of the town and area, one would think that there is ample natural inspiration for an atmospheric black metal band. However, in the case of Porteur de lumiere (Bringer of Light), released this March, this is clearly not the case.

In honour of the confused, mish-mash presentation of the album, I will now present my review in the form of stream of consciousness.

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Sadistic Metal Reviews: Zyklon B For Bandcamp

Hipster and poseur blood must be shed!

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Meditations on the Death of Wishful Thinking

To be a writer, if you are any good, is to be a blasphemer. Humanity is an entropy engine because each person decides on what view of the world makes them look the best, and so the constant weight pushing down on us is that of the herd, of a group of individuals united only by selfishness, come together into a mob for the purpose of asserting their right to be different and unique, constantly leading away from an understanding of the world around us and any meaning that can be found in it.

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Sadistic Metal Reviews: Halfway Through 2017 Hammer Farts


Sadistic reviews by Linus Douglas.

Sadly apart from Sammath, some other Dutch metal, and reissues, Hammerheart Records appears to publish many moronic releases produced by poor excuses for neurons in hopes of flooding shelves like every other larger metal label.

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