Martyrdöd – Elddop

There is an expected blackened crust-punk feel to Elddop (Southern Lord), the fifth full-length from Swedish quartet Martyrdöd, thanks largely to some lightning paced riffs, a frosted atmosphere and the haunted roar of a ghoul in the shape of Mikael Kjellman. The upbeat feel of ‘En Jobbigt Jävel’ and the jolly riff in the middle of ‘Synd’ lend an element of Alestorm-style shout-a-long to the all-too-obvious Kvelertak comparisons, made especially easy by some ripping solos. There are slower moments, such as opener ‘Nödkanal’ and the opening of ‘Synd’ which add an element of intrigue and gravity, counteracting largely rollicking moments such as ‘Tentakler’. ‘Skum pä väridens hav’ blends the two paces; the almost poignant intro giving way to a careering brute of a track, peppered with lead accompaniments. As with punk, squalling lead flurries run in tandem with some growling riffs and these often help the music stand out from the crashing chaos, which is usual for breakneck black metal.

There are fifteen tracks here and, although it’s a powerful and urgent style with plenty of fire and anger, nothing really sticks out: though with only two of those tracks breaking the four-minute mark boredom isn’t much of an issue. Those speedy leads, often with bluesy undertones, really lift tracks like ‘Varmigens Klockor’ and their constant influence on the brief but fizzing ‘Steg’ give the song character without leaning towards parody. They are a moving influence on the album’s showpiece; the emotive, almost balladic and largely instrumental ‘Martyren’, with Kjellman’s fetid roar a wonderfully effective cameo.

Without those frantic melodies this could in truth be a little wearing, appealing only to those who like the unflinching harshness and emphysemic frost of Horna. The true tale is told as an ‘Ace of Spades’-style solo lights up the coda of an uninspiring ‘Hjärnspoken’. Closing track ‘Under Skinnet’ sees a delicate, often falsetto female vocal add a new and not unappealing slant, some gorgeous harmonies decorating the shimmering black riffs finally shattering the D-beat shackles and displaying the full extent of the invention these guys possess.

Steady and listenable without being outstanding.


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