Up here in the land of ice and snow (strangely, it's December 22, and we still haven't gotten any. Weird…), the French-Canadian death metal scene is thriving, quietly carving its out niche into the genre. Among this scene you have a variety of different death metal bands, from the likes of Kataklysm to Quo Vadis to Cryptopsy to Martyr. Formed in Trois-Rivières, Québec in 1994, Martyr is a band rooted firmly in that of technical death metal. Led by former Gorguts, Cryptopsy, and Quo Vadis vocalist/guitarist Daniel Mongrain, the band has released three full length albums and one live album, with their latest release being 2006's Feeding the Abscess. The band's newest record once again retains the tried, test, and true tech death sound that so many have made use of in the past, but does it live up to the performances of years gone by? Read on fellow death-heads.
Following in the footsteps of past influences such as Atheist, Cynic and fellow countrymen, Cryptopsy, with Feeding the Abscess Martyr makes excellent use of jazzy interludes, frequent time changes, and the crushingly brutal riffs. The musicianship to be found here is shockingly mind blowing, especially due to the consistency which the band spits out the complex riff structure. Which is pretty much always. Listening to songs like Felony, Perpetual Healing (Infinite Pain), and Lost in Sanity, and it's just amazing how much control the band has over their respective instruments. The eighth track in particular, Felony, displays the band at their best and is probably the album's easiest track to listen to. However, in this particular case Martyr's greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. Unlike bands such as Quo Vadis and Arsis, groups which manage to piece together technically complex songs and albums without rendering them unlistenable. After listening to this, it seems that Martyr has not figured out how to do this yet. Feeding the Abscess takes quite a few listens to get into, especially for new or non-traditional listeners of the genre. Some songs, such as Nameless, Priceless, Neverborn or even Feast of Vermin are far too technical for their own good. Until you give the album a chance to grow on you, songs such as these are quite hard to digest and the album borderlines on boring as the album continues. After a few listens, a lot of these elements disappear, but it's still noteworthy, especially for newer fans of the genre.
Vocally, however, for the most part Martyr does not draw from traditional death metal influences. Instead, Daniel Mongrain generally employs a thrashier shriek. Despite this, his rough, gritty voice still suits the extreme metal style of Feeding the Abscess. For the most part, Mongrain's tortured screams do a somewhat good job delivering the band's nihilistic message, and get the job done especially around the beginning of the album. However, similarly to the technical aspect of the music, Daniel's vocal efforts can grow exceedingly annoying as the album progresses as well. Unlike the musical aspect of Feeding the Abscess, Martyr's vocalist does not really impress at all. His performance is rather standard for thrash, solid but unspectacular. Daniel's finest moments actually come when he makes use of his death metal growl. One of the few occasions where he makes use of this skill is in the song Havoc where he mixes both vocal styles together. Not exactly the most extraordinary moment of the year, but it still sounds pretty good. I think Martyr could improve this element in the future.
All in all, Martyr's fourth major release (and third album), Feeding the Abscess is a quality tech death metal album. Though far from perfect, its technical overtures and skull crushing riffs should impress listeners who are into that sort of thing. However, as with basically anything, excesses of complexity and musicianship really bring the album down. For most, Feeding the Abscess should talk a couple listens to truly get into, as it features few, if any, catchy/accessible moments. Fans of technical death metal should readily enjoy Martyr's new album, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone not already well versed in the genre. Check out Quo Vadis, Atheist, or even Death before this.
Lost in Sanity
Perpetual Healing (Infinite Pain)
I think Martyr overplayed on this album. Warp Zone was the perfect balance between sheer technicality and great songwriting, but they tipped the balance a bit too far here. Patrice Hamelin is a very versatile and skilled drummer, with a lot of interesting patterns and polyrhythms, but his kit doesn't sound all that great here, the snare sounds too boxy. I guess this is more of a production issue. Daniel Mongrain is in my opinion, one of Death Metal's finest guitarists, he actually has real jazz within his fingers, you can hear it. Vocals need a lot of work though.This Message Edited On 05.22.08