Release DetailsLABEL Galy
RELEASED ON 10/31/2006
Feeding the Abscess
posted on 11/2006 By:
It’s been six years since Warp Zone was released and followed with a showering of praise from critics and fans alike. I’d like to think it apparent that I’m one of them. But after a few years of silence, the band's immediacy lessened and along with it the initial brouhaha the material has caused. And while I’d be lying if I never wondered what the hell took the boys from Martyr so long to release the follow up, I never quite expected something quite as daunting as this to show up on my desk.
For those of you not familiar with these Canadian’s strikingly original take on technical death metal, the sound shares the same sort of melodic brutality as Neuraxis and organized chaos presented by Cryptopsy on Whisper Supremacy, while deftly managing to accomplish what seems to be a rather ubiquitous dedication in the Canadian death metal community to always take a unique twist on the genre, no matter how much of the band's sound may owe its primary character to Symbolic era Death.
The production might as well have been handed down from God himself, as I have yet to hear something quite this flawless in concern to tone, clarity, and mix. Beyond the obvious distinction of Daniel Mongrain’s Schuldiner-esque vocals and the accompanied standard death metal roars, for what seems like the first time in my life I’m actually able to enjoy François Mongrain’s refreshingly competent basslines just as easily as the clarity and precision placed on Daniel and Martin’s fiendishly excellent guitar work, along with the perfect emphasis placed on Patrice Hamlein’s tasteful drum style that never once relies on blasting as a crutch for absence of creativity.
What distinctively separates Martyr from the rest of the bands that are often graced with the technical death metal label is the sheer ingenuous subtlety with which everything is executed, despite that the band has easily written some of the most intricately detailed and progressively expansive death metal this side of Cynic. While I’ve always been a big fan of the genre as a whole, it has always seemed like an integral stylistic shortcoming that the music is phenomenally hit or miss, generally due to the overwhelming dominance of a prevalent need to incessantly bludgeon the listener over the head with technicality for technicality's sake. While this can be entertaining and impressive in its own careful implementation, many bands end up sacrificing both emotional intensity and listenability for wankery. Martyr avoid this increasingly common pitfall with an unmistakable sense of both ingenuity and intelligence. Even while rushing through a flurry of both complex bass and lead guitar lines at an obviously frenetic pace on tracks like “Feast of Vermin” or the chaotic polyrhythms of “Silent Science”, at all moments the music is both immediately clear and quite easy to digest, in spite of the apparent wealth of everything going on. The bands level of intrinsic dynamic variation from the smooth shifts from the churning rhythmic aggressiveness of “Lost in Sanity” to the more melodically minded cuts like “Perpetual Healing” and “Felony” underscore the band's ability to create truly remarkable music.
While more often than not, bands that boast of heavy jazz influence in their music come off as a sort of pretentious novelty. Martyr, at least in my eyes, never come off as unnecessary or needlessly overdone. Feeding the Abscess is one of the few death metal albums I’ve ever heard that seamlessly integrates jazz to the point where it’s not just one singular facet of the bands sound, but a whole foundational framework from which the rest of the material is completely immutable. While songs like “Echoes of the Unseen” are admittedly a bit more boastful of the jazz elements of their sound, tracks like the wonderful mindfuck of “Havoc” and the avant-garde, heavily Gorguts tinged experimentation of “Shellshocked” showcase Martyr bringing this juxtaposition of apparently dissimilar styles to a whole new level.
In a lot of ways I consider what Martyr has accomplished with Feeding the Abscess is nothing shy of absolutely prodigious. There’s an unbelievable amount going on here, and I highly doubt that even with my relative acquaintance with the album I’ve truly managed to appreciate all the presented nuances, albeit the album still manages to be immediately arresting. I can’t convincingly say that everyone will appreciate Feeding the Abscess nearly as much as I do, and while I’m sure this may fall flat with a good portion of our readers, there is at the very least a level of undeniable creative brilliance that demands attention. While I don't usually consider myself to be a particular bastard when it comes to scoring (this being my first full score), this sort of praise does not come lightly from me; I think it's past time to start mentioning Martyr amongst the list of death metal elites. Let’s hope it’s not another six years for the next one, but if the quality remains this strong, maybe even that much time would be warranted.
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