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Red In Tooth And Claw
Released: 2016, Dark Essence
Reviewer: Manos X
Madder Mortem were created back in 1993 under the name Mystery Tribe in Norway. A demo called DAYS IN SORROW was also released before switching to Madder Mortem. Their sound can be described as progressive mixed with heavy rock and some metal elements.
It’s a rare thing seeing a female fronted band that dwells into the prog/rock realm and having in mind that Madder Mortem have been at it for 23 years now it’s safe assuming that they were considered an oddity at the time of their formation. Madder Mortem owe a lot of their unique blend of sound to the unusual vocals of Agnete M. Kirkevaag. Agnete’s approach and singing can’t be easily described. Her style varies from narrating to intense belting and screaming but don’t think metalcore screaming here. Instead think of Jefferson Airplane’s singer Grace Slick (another singer with Norwegian origins) or how Warrel Dane of Sanctuary (and Nevermore) used to sound in “Refuge denied” era. Come to think of it Sanctuary had covered “White Rabbit” from Jefferson Airplane in that same album! Just check out songs like the opening “Blood on the Sand” or “Fallow season” and you’ll get what I mean.
Rest of the band creates a psychedelic atmosphere that carries that ‘70s prog aura but they don’t rely on that only. Instead they fuse their sound with various modern styles like the blastbeats found on “Parasites” or the black/death shrieks that exist in the mid of “Returning to the end of the world” which is one of my favorite songs in this albums. Madder Mortem are great musicians but they don’t aim on impressing the listener with their skills. Instead of blistering solos, complex drumming patterns and blending of various genres Madder Mortem have a method of slowly building up a song and create explosive moments with their bridges and choruses.
The production and mixing is in great levels and provide adequate breathing room for all instruments. However if there’s a thing I have objections with is the constant use of doubling the vocals in the verses. While this creates a certain atmosphere it also takes away the appeal and emotion a single vocal line has.
RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW is definitely an unusual album. Madder Mortem’s style isn’t mainstream or ear friendly and it requires attention from the listener’s part in order to get inside their world. If you feel open minded and like to be challenged then this album is suited for you but keep in mind this music is not for the fainthearted
1. Blood on the Sand
2. If I Could
3. Fallow Season
5. All the Giants Are Dead
6. Returning to the End of the World
8. Stones for Eyes
9. The Whole Where Your Heart Belongs
Agnete M. Kirkevaag Vocals
BP M. Kirkevaag Guitar
Richard Wikstrand Guitar
Tormod Langøien Moseng Bass
Mads Solås Drums
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