IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!!!!
Their last album, “Warp Zone”, was a much praised release when it came out, and due to word of mouth and the internet, their fanbase grew too substantially. It was a landmark in the world of Progressive Death Metal, and it established MARTYR as one of the pioneers and the trailblazers of the Quebec Metal scene. People have been waiting for the follow-up for years, as it was originally announced to be released in 2003 (as I remember them saying it when I saw them live in 2002), various factors got in the way I guess. I did hear a couple of tracks on various samplers, plus saw them play around 5 or 6 new ones last year, so all that did was make me anticipate this album a LOT more. Damn teases. It was officially announced that it finally get released this year, and I marked down October 31 on my calendar, eagerly awaiting its release.
This is not “Warp Zone”, part two. Oh, don’t get me wrong, MARTYR is still as jaw-droppingly technical on this album, perhaps even more so than on “Warp Zone”. However, they heavily expanded their use of strange chords and their Jazz influence, alongside their use of counter-point melodies. Also, the songs have some simple (!) riffs, just to leave some room to breathe here and there. And a violin interlude and the use of samples just for kicks.
For the best musical comparison, picture ATHEIST’s “Unquestionable Presence”, but TOTALLY jacked up on speed, cocaine and hallucinogens. Extremely technical riffs weave in and out of each other, the bass is perpetually moving and never monotonous, and the drumming is beastly. Sure, you can say that about many MANY bands, but MARTYR avoids the common pitfall of most Technical Death Metal bands by simply not making their goal to bludgeon the listener for the full extent of the album. Despite there being lots going on within the riffs, there still is genuine emotion emanating from the riffs, and the music is generally easy to digest, even at very frantic paces. Yes, it’s very complex music, but it doesn’t come off as wankery. Instead, the technicality, be it in the ultra-fast guitar lines, the odd-timed riffs or the beautifully executed brutal harmony lines are done with the goal of emoting the music, and with the lyrical themes (intelligently) dealing with darker subjects, the result is the creation of something that sounds very claustrophobic and jagged, but with some layer of hope underneath.
Which brings me to my next point: The production is absolutely stellar. Music this complex needs to have all of its parts to be heard clearly, but needs to have enough edge so that there still is some life to it and doesn’t come off as something sterile. The guitars are vibrant and heavy, the bass is holding the bottom register yet is hearable and the drumming shows both creativity and restraint.
The vocals have gotten much better than before, with Daniel Mongrain’s (guitar player and main songwriter) vocals have more power to them than before, and Francois Mongrain’s (bassist) deep guttural vocals have more conviction to them and can hold their own, while they were the weakest part of their previous albums.
This album is absolutely jaw-dropping in both catchiness and technicality. It’s very direct and in your face, but has enough subtlety that you need some listens to get all the music. It’s amazing. Now, the next question to be answered: “Is it better than Warp Zone?”, as I’ve given both albums 10/10. It’s hard to judge, as I’ve owned “Warp Zone” for six years and I've had a long time to absorb it, while I've owned “Feeding The Abscess” for less than two months, so it hasn’t sunk in completely. But I’m enjoying more and more as I keep playing it.
MARTYR, you released the top album of 2006.
Don't make us wait six years for the next album!
(Online December 25, 2006)