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Album Of The Month June 2009
Madder Mortem | ‘Eight Ways’

List the qualities that it takes to garner critical acclaim, to be in the vanguard of what’s considered truly brilliant.

Madder Mortem will have nearly all of them. I’ve said it for years and would almost be sick sore and tire of doing it had they not just released an album that gives reason to shout even louder from the rooftops about just how special they are.

Their latest, ‘Eight Ways’, is not only an album that needs to be heard. It’s an album that screams to be heard, demands it, with every note of its being. I’m usually confident in MI’s ability to sum up the albums that are great and that are worthy. This is one of the few that leaves me grasping for an adequate response to what is really, honestly, a cut far above even their own previous best.

Its every song is a masterclass in passion, conviction and the type of self belief it takes to make music that you as a band want to make, and to hell with everyone else. That’s why the softer tracks here are even more poignant than before, and the harder ones harder.

They had already matured to a level most bands are simply too blinkered and boxed in, usually by themselves, to even contemplate. That was ‘Desiderata’, which was an awesome thing. This one is even better, in fact better by far in its variety and its absolutely magisterial songwriting.

It’s their most direct. Their most lyrical, their most heartfelt and their most driving. The regal, wounded and elegaic ‘Armour’ throbs with hurt, and transcends almost any track in their discography to date, with the power of its honesty shaming a genre that all too frequently plays hard to no avail.

‘Resolution’ shows just that: a brilliant, firebrand piece of oratory, with Agnete Kirkevaag setting out once again her stall, in case you didnt hear the first time she took the head off your shoulders. ‘Life, Lust & Liberty’ and ‘The Flesh, The Blood And The Man’ are two more highlights, with her silk and steel vocal approaches giving way to the kind of singing firepower that cant be kept down. There’s a line in here about ‘the little things / like this need to sing’. That’s the crux of it. This is music by people who have a reason and a need to make music. It’s the antithesis of shitty, conveyor belt, money metal in all of its pitiful guises.

There was debate recently on the forums about what constituted a 5/5 album in MI’s long and largely accurate overview of underground metal . If you’re in any doubt whatsoever, this is what it sounds like. Detailed and delicate, thumping and throrough, it’s an album that’s a constant wellspring of ideas and invention, and most important of all, fantastic, memorable songs.

There simply arent enough bands like Madder Mortem. From the promise of the ‘Misty Sleep’ demo, through Misanthropy’s ‘Mercury’, to ‘Desiderata’ where they finally emerged from their chrysalis, it only takes you to hear the utter grunt and shuffle of ‘A Different Kind of Hell’ to be convinced this is an album of music made by people who mean it. Buy it, borrow it, beg for it, but at the very least own this album. No serious collection is complete without it – and it’ll serve as a yardstick for whatever you buy after it. Mark me.

Buy it, be amazed, and blush for the shite you currently call good.

5/5 – Earl Grey ::: 08/06/09

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