The End Records is consistently showcasing talent these days and truly becoming a label with a standard in tact that quite simply equates to their artists creating music outside the lines of conformity, which in turn garners originality throughout. Along comes Norway’s Madder Mortem, with a sound that falls somewhere within the gothic realm of obscure but ultimately offers so much more. Personally I feel the majority of female-fronted bands that do fall into this category generally create one-dimensional music with the main focus always smack dab on the singer herself. We just accept that the music behind the lungs of silk is weak as hell, but if an ugly-ass obese chick with a burnt face was singing her ass off instead you would notice immediately how pathetic the songwriting actually is. Call it mesmerized by the beauty and the voice to match, but in the end all it amounts to is a large smoke screen of leg, ass and lung. Well, then I can quickly attest that such is not the case with Madder Mortem. Yes, Agnete Kirkevaag does have the looks and the pipes to fit the standard, but Madder Mortem has so much more to offer with such well crafted songs of gloom that are so strangely written with addictive personality that I still haven’t quite put my finger on it as to why and even how after countless listens. Deadlands has such an eerie flow of peculiar to it but at the same time is as comfortable to listen to as if written on ten mattresses of down and composed with a feather of doom. One could compare Madder Mortem to notable bands within this genre, but really it would be at face value only because Madder Mortem has truly come into their own with a sound that wretchedly screams originality combined with melancholic bliss. Although Kirkevaag’s voice is quickly and outstandingly first at bat as far as standout is concerned, it’s only after a mere one listen that the luminosity of Eirik Ulvo Langnes and BP M.Kirkevaag’s mid-paced guitar romp of morose becomes worryingly apparent and Madder Mortem becomes much more than just a face. The songs themselves take on life, or actually death, with a well balanced flair of compassion yet vividly the end is nowhere in sight. You’re lost in the beauty but at the same time shunned by the murk while emotions of blackness rip and tear your psyche into the void of regress. The combination of atmospheric recluse and tortured torment flows with a grace of endless and utter regret. So take your blackened soul of despair and belly up to your counterpart and drink death in, for the end is close at hand.
Bottom Line: Madder Mortem’s Deadlands truly takes you on a journey through a world of endless strife and consequence yet at the same time there’s really no other place you would rather be. Intensity is delivered through austerity and the loss of hope, but at the same time the beauty illuminates a light of trust. Delicate is the balance, but ultimate is the payoff.