Madder Mortem - Red in Tooth and Claw
Dark Essence Records
10 songs (50'54")
Release year: 2016
Madder Mortem, Dark Essence Records
Reviewed by Alex

Norwegians Madder Mortem said they were missing releasing music for 7 long years. The truth be said I have no idea of Madder Mortem fanbase size, but those in love with avantgarde yet accessible music missed Madder Mortem for just as long. Having lost the constraints of any genre, atmospheric doom is where Madder Mortem started, the band now simply creates music they want to hear themselves, and that is exactly what they have done with Red in Tooth and Claw. Here is one challenging album one would probably not have easy time promoting, getting into on a first listen or reviewing. Yet, once you get your bearings about these 10 tracks, the enjoyment of doing all of the above will take over, and completely satisfy, for many times to come.

Madder Mortem don't start off easy, and never relent throughout, although there are plenty of quiet moments on Red in Tooth and Claw. The relentless nature comes in a form of a constant mental challenge the band presents. Combining gentle music and nail scraping hardcore in one song (Blood on the Sand) is what Madder Mortem can do. No two songs are alike on the album. No song is either purely melodic or gut wrenching. Emotional roller coaster is on constantly, and Madder Mortem only care that "passionate" is an epithet you are applying throughout. Yet individually there could be art rock of The Gathering (The Whole Where Your Heart Belongs), or hard slamming headbang (Stones for Eyes). There could be nimble opening melody and pop sensibility of If I Could. And then there are totally unexpected ABBA overtones in Pitfalls, or iconic Robert Palmer riffing from Simply Irresistible made heavy in Fallow Season, or of course I could be imagining that. All the Giants Are Dead goes from a lounge affair, then ratchets up tension leaving it unresolved. Returning to the end of the World is dark and foreboding, groovy and brooding at the same time.

Musical performances on the album are also noteworthy. Agnete Kirkevaag is probably one of the few female vocalists who can be gentle, feminine, caressing and hysterical, dominating, intimidating in the span of a few minutes. Her clean notes are soothing, her wails are from the heart. Percussively Red in Tooth and Claw creates a range of rhythms, rolling snares and something akin to hand timpani claps and you can hear excellent bass playing on All the Giants Are Dead and especially Returning to the end of the World. Album's production felt a little muddy to me at first, but then I figured it only adds to non-commercial appeal of Red in Tooth and Claw, by way of tightening its guitars fabric.

Not sure if I have provided a distinctive enough description for the album now, but one thing was certain to me. As soon as the rousing lamentation of Underdogs was over, I knew Red in Tooth and Claw becomes my soundtrack of the week, including some re-listens of Desiderata and Deadlands, the other Madder Mortem albums in my collection.

Killing Songs :
If I Could, Fallow Season, All the Giants are Dead, Returning to the End of the World, Underdogs
Alex quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Madder Mortem that we have reviewed:
Madder Mortem - Marrow reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 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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