The first time I heard an album by Madder Mortem (their second one All Flesh Is Grass) I was quite taken aback by the quality of it. I stumbled upon them by accident and was immediately enthralled by their unbelievable heavy riffing mixed with female vocals and weird twists and turns.
For people who might think the following when hearing heavy riffs and female vocals in one sentence: No, this isn't gothic metal. Far from it actually.
This Norwegian band has neatly carved it's own niche with elements of black, nu, thrash and dark metal. Vocalist Agnete Kirkevaag has a distinct, emotional way of singing which is very a-typical for any genre which quite simply defines this band.
Follow up album Deadlands was different in a way that it contained way more depth. Atmospheric, eerie parts were easily mixed with the more heavy downtuned riffing of All Flesh Is Grass and even elements of a band like A Perfect Circle were present.
Now after a long delay (members leaving and coming and a label change) we have fourth album Desiderata. And what a record it is! The first thing noticed is the fact that's f**ng heavy. Opening track My name is silence immediately sets the tone with it's upbeat main riffing and discordant verse guitars. Madder Mortem have never sounded so focussed and harsh in their whole career and every track somehow has a pleasant surprise in a way. Be it a vocal melody, harmony, guitar riff etc. It always keeps me on the edge of my seat.
Another thing is the more rythmic approach to the music. Sometimes almost sounding like the bastard avantgarde child of Meshuggah, Madder Mortem have created a unique spectrum of sounds and music which effectively puts them in a league of their own.
The dynamics and variety in all the songs are also incredible, with subtle jazzy guitar lines in ambient parts featuring Agnete's haunting vocal lines which then build up to a euphoric climax (listen to track three.. halfway after the subtle intermezzo comes the vocal line 'plague on this LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND!'. It immediately raises my neckhair every time, and it's been a long time ago a song did that to me.) It makes up for an absolutely intriguing listen in a way that it spearheads itself straight into my 2006 top ten.
To put it simple, Madder Mortem have created a fantastic piece of heavy music. For people who don't know them yet: If you like your metal downtuned, heavy, dynamic with a big avant garde twist and are musically open minded enough to accept emotionally charged female vocals (without shouting that this is gothic shit) and genre defying (in a Opeth way, they've toured with them actually) then frankly, this is for you. And check their back catalogue as well while your at it, because their former albums are as amazing as well.
2. Evasions (5:14)
3. Plague On This Land (4:39)
4. Dystopia (1:16)
5. M For Malice (4:16)
6. Flood To Come (4:55)
7. Changeling (4:25)
8. Cold Stone (6:01)
9. Hypnos (4:38)
10. Sedition (4:05)
11. Desiderata (6:07)
12. Hangman (6:02)
BP - Guitars, voice
Odd - Guitars
Tormod - Bass, vocals
Mads - Drums, percussion