Madder Mortem - Desiderata
Peaceville Records
Diverse Avantgarde Metal
12 songs (54'47")
Release year: 2006
Madder Mortem, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Alex

It is fitting human nature to be happy when the previous “I told you so” prediction turns out to be true. We all want to feel a little bit clairvoyant. In this case it fits my own nature to rejoice when “next album of such-and-such band will be great” prediction hits the nail on the head. Didn’t I tell you I would be checking the next album by Madder Mortem when Deadlands was reviewed? Desiderata is upon us and it does not disappoint.

It is unlikely that the line-up changes that the Madders encountered were solely responsible for the growth. To me it was a natural progression of the talent stored within the Madder Mortem vault, the fruitful results of the endless touring (including the one with Opeth which opened this Norwegian band for many) and, first and foremost, their insatiable hunger to create memorable music. Dreary bleakness of Deadlands has been replaced with diverse urgency of Desiderata.

The good feeling for the album was upon me from the very start, when short, to-the-point, hard-hitting My Name is Silence (to be turned into a promotional video by the band) filled my speakers. Perhaps not typical of the rest of the album, where songs stun in their diversity, this heavy straightforward rocker of a song makes one pay attention.

When I say “varied” in terms of songs on Desiderata I mean it. Where else would you find the change from thrash to dark progressive to, dare I say, hardcore within the scope of a single cut (Plague on This Land, M for Malice)? The last thing Madder Mortem shows on Desiderata is being safe. They continuously push the envelope while rarely losing the listener. Perhaps it is moments of dark melody and mellow singing on M for Malice or title cut that endears me, or perhaps it is very clever song sequencing throughout the album. If you have short a capello harp supported lament Dystopia, the Maddres will throw us a kitchen sink on M for Malice next, only to eventually devastate with direct heavy riffs on The Flood to Come. Experimental dissonance of Changeling (not my favorite spot on the album) is followed by grower of a song Cold Stone, where layers of synth, percussion and choir are constantly being added to eventually culminate and fade away with harmonica. And after all of that, the superb simple flow of Hypnos concludes. If the particular song itself does not grab you on Desiderata, you can almost count on the following tune to knock your socks off. Of course, there are going to be as many “killing songs” as there are people, so I can guarantee you my favorite sequence off Desiderata will be completely different than yours.

When the heavy choppy riffs of The Flood to Come enter, I was salivating in anticipation, I could not wait to hear Agnete Kirkevaag to sing over them. The band actually teases us at first only vocalizing over the quieter sections, but eventually the two unstoppable forces, those damn riffs and Agnete’s voice, converge. I also could swear that Hypnos has wings, that song simply flying by, despite ever changing percussion approach.

All musicians deliver on Desiderata. Progressive to heavy to slightly gothic, moods change on the album as soon as the band decides to change them. It is hard to say whether Agnete broke down the remainder of her shell (if she had any) and the rest of the band followed suit, or she just could not hold back any longer when the band decided to push it and punch it in the gut. At any rate, you could never confuse Ms. Kirkevaag with a soft floating soprano, but on Desiderata she sounds, if not pissed off, then, at least, irritated. If I made a ‘core reference above, it is because of how intense the vocals are on Desiderata. Agnete is at her best when she reaches for power deep in her chest and bellows out. The perfect example of that is the closer Hangman, when hushed jazz, where wire brushes are used instead of drum sticks, becomes completely torn apart by the storm of feelings delivered by Agnete’s voice and soul wrenching string chords.

You have got to believe this is not the best Madder Mortem can do. Female vocals driven, but defiantly non-commercial and not trendy, the band should lure, but unfortunately might scare away, those who liked the sounds of Evanescence and Lacuna Coil. And if you are missing the sadly defunct Amaran, Madder Mortem can provide solace.

Killing Songs :
My Name is Silence, M for Malice, The Flood to Come, Cold Stone, Hypnos, Hangman
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Madder Mortem that we have reviewed:
Madder Mortem - Red in Tooth and Claw reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
Madder Mortem - Where Dream and Day Collide reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Madder Mortem - Eight Ways reviewed by Charles and quoted 82 / 100
Madder Mortem - Deadlands reviewed by Alex and quoted 69 / 100
Madder Mortem - All Flesh Is Grass reviewed by Danny and quoted 62 / 100
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