Martriden - Martriden
Black/Death Metal
4 songs (25'42")
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Continuing on my reviewing journey around the US this week, we are also going to hit Havre, Montana, population the grand whopping 10,000, but also the home to black/death metal warriors Martriden. This is the land whose governor, a Democrat, in response to “are you for or against gun control”, says “I am definitely for gun control – I will control my gun and you will control yours”. This is some Wild, Wild West, and being close to Canadian border is making for some cold winters as well.

Whether harsh climate serves as inspiration for Martriden or its members simply listened enough to Scandinavian melodic death and black metal to become influenced is irrelevant. The band led by brothers Kyle and Shane Howard is well balanced (with Kyle having a degree in music) and, although their debut EP is not shatteringly groundbreaking, it is utterly competent, even if a little overproduced.

For a young band Martriden impresses with their versatility and ability to write dynamic interesting songs across the melodic black/death metal interface. Blank Eye Stare and In Death We Burn are significantly more blackened, demonic, and in the case of In Death We Burn, thrashy, marching processions. Well defined riffs are infused with atmosphere of Kyle’s swirling keyboards, less charismatic than Emperor, and more along the likes of Dimmu Borgir, but of the early days, circa Spiritual Black Dimensions, and thus not piping the symphonic hype. Martriden has an excellent feel for melody, be it the brutal blasting part or a lead in In Death We Burn or the percussive outro dark waltz on the opener Blank Eye Stare. The latter is really injecting a great deal of warmth into an otherwise austere piece – a wonderful addition. The closer Set a Fire in Our Flesh includes a triumphant Vikingesque closer melody Amon Amarth would not be turning down.

The versatility factor kicks in when on The Art of Death Infernal and Set a Fire in Our Flesh the band basically does a 180 and plays groovy but atmospheric death metal, somewhat reminiscent of Suffocation, with atonal eeriness riding atop the chunky groove. Martriden also has the sensibility to include acoustic guitar parts, although they tend to be mere bridges, rather than long involved Opeth pieces.

The EP is produced by Dave Otero (Flat Line Studios, Denver), who is mostly known for his work with grinders Cephalic Carnage. A little known fact is Dave’s own band, now split-up, but famous in Denver area, Serberus, who called it quits after a couple of EPs and one full-length (I happen to be the proud owner of both EPs). Perhaps Dave is seeing in Martriden what Serberus could have been. Either way, it is evident that the production, modern and polished, contributed quite a bit to how Martriden sounds. The power and clarity of music is remarkable, but the clicking triggered drum sound comes off as artificial. The added precision and tightness is no substitute for natural abilities – not everyone is Nick Barker, and it is OK if everyone does not sound like him. On the other hand, vocalist Michael Cook, whose voice is a Shagrath-like growl, benefits from multi-tracking building him up a bit.

All of nit-picky criticism aside, I really enjoyed this EP. The recent licensing deal with Candlelight is well deserved, and if that means opening up for Emperor at the upcoming US shows, Martriden will get once-in-a-lifetime shot they should take advantage of. The band is definitely no worse than second generation blackened death teams like Dragon/Storm/insert your favorite kind-lord, and should appeal to the fans of Behemoth, Cryonics and Necrophobic. If the kids in Havre start playing their own Martriden over Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, Montana’s metal standing will jump tenfold.

Killing Songs :
Blank Eye Stare, In Death We Burn, Set a Fire in Our Flesh
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Martriden that we have reviewed:
Martriden - Cold and the Silence reviewed by Jared and quoted 94 / 100
Martriden - Encounter the Monolith reviewed by Crash and quoted 91 / 100
Martriden - The Unsettling Dark reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
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