Madder Mortem - Marrow
Dark Essence Records
Progressive Avantgarde with Hard Edge
11 songs (53'27")
Release year: 2018
Madder Mortem, Dark Essence Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Norwegians Madder Mortem catch me by surprise the second time around. Again they managed to release an album which totally slipped under my radar, the album I didn’t know existed and the one I didn’t get to hear until almost half a year after its release. At least Madder Mortem didn’t have to be gone for six long years this time, and the break between Red in Tooth and Claw and Marrow was only two much shorter years. Perhaps being tucked away on the local Dark Essence Records label has something to do with how visible Madder Mortem is and how hard one has to work to follow the band.

And follow Madder Mortem is worth it. Sandwiched between cleverly titled Untethered and Tethered intro and outro respectively, which puts Marrow playing pretty much in an endless loop, are nine tracks which will badger, relax and confuse you at turns, but you are guaranteed one full ride on the emotional rollercoaster. A Madder Mortem trademark. For one, go ahead and give a shot to name a style Madder Mortem plays. Gothic hardcore? Alternative groovy doom? Or simply progressive avant-garde? Whatever the style is, once Madder Mortem plays it, it is unmistakably them, and Marrow does nothing to screw with successful formula.

Formula is probably the wrong notion to use to describe Madder Mortem anyway, and the band is never easy to get into on the first listen. Marrow is no exception in that sense either. There is probably no composition here that follows a simple path. From uncomfortably edgy to soothing to almost cacophonic, Marrow songs take you to various emotional brinks. Impossible to focus onto a target, Madder Mortem always manages to click for me eventually, and suddenly the picture becomes clear, and you want more and more of this music, as some sort of narcotic. After that catharsis I could plug anywhere into Marrow, and enjoy just about every composition. Savage, with a hint of darkness, almost off-putting Liberator. From hammer on anvil crushingly heavy to trippy softness Moonlight over Silver White. Until You Return with its dreamy dejectedness. Slamo-groovy My Will Be Done, with emerging hooky melody. Starting tender but ending with thick distortion Far From Home, where tension ratchets. Phantasmagoric, jerky, spastic pile, which manages to clear at times, title track. Nervous, rhythmic White Snow, Red Shadows. Smooth and flowy Stumble On which manages to get prickly in the end anyway. There is a personal like to some of these more than others, maybe because of the hook or two, but there is honestly no weak track on Marrow I would want to skip. The culmination to all of this is the monumental icy wall of doom which is Waiting to Fall. The longest, yet the least chameleonic, track, the quiet gloominess on Waiting to Fall persists, the pressure just keeps on building, until everything gets abruptly cut off at the cliff’s end.

In addition to the subtle yet absolutely clever songwriting, another ace up Madder Mortem sleeve is their long-time vocalist Agnete Kirkevaag. Without her, I cannot imagine how Marrow or Red in Tooth and Claw before it would work. While not losing the softness in her voice when called for, Agnete high pitch became less frenetic and out of control, but lost no passion in the process. She is still all in, when the moment requires it. Where Agnete voice lost in shrillness, a good thing, Madder Mortem picked up the intensity in guitar sound.

If I discovered Marrow in time, there is no way it would be omitted on my year end 2018 list. Alas, I am not going to revise it, yet here is to hoping I catch the next Madder Mortem in time, not half a year after it sees the light of day.

Killing Songs :
Moonlight over Silver White, Until You Return, My Will be Done, Far from Home, Waiting to Fall
Alex quoted 91 / 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 - Desiderata reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Madder Mortem - Deadlands reviewed by Alex and quoted 69 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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