Hexhammaren (Century Media) by Martyrdöd is the type of album you only must sample one track to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Once the title track gives you the five fingers to the face you will have accepted that it’s going to be a hell of a night and of d-beats, raw guitars and lyrics barked at you with the ferocity of a Rottweiler.
No, I’m serious. With the exception of about two songs, ‘Hexhammaren’ sets the template of what’s to come in terms of speed and song length. And that’ s not a slight against Martyrdöd as we’ve gotten the same treatment for decades from bands ranging from AC/DC to Six Feet Under. I know for a fact that some will devour this no pretense approach and while it certainly gave me awesome moments, I walked away a bit underwhelmed.
I’m all in for the speedy rhythms and wicked drum fills that prop up ‘Rännilar’ and the inventive lead guitar work that occupies the second half of ‘Nästa Syrien.’ However, having very similarly structured songs piled back to back like ‘Helveteslarm,’ ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Bait and Switch’ leaves the listener feeling like they heard the same track. And while at it, I must bring up again a prominent issue I have with many modern bands: when it comes to vocals, sometimes less is more. Guitarist and vocalist Mikael Kjellman possesses a mighty roar, but it’ s important to know when to holster that weapon. Songs like ‘Den Sista Striden’ and ‘In the Dead of Night’ have their riffs lose torque when the vocals are too high in the mix and the barking refuses to cease.
If you’re looking for weird and pissed off noise, Martyrdöd have got you covered. But you’ve been warned; approach with caution.
6 / 10