Review Summary: Taking influences from Black and Death metal, Martriden release one of the most promising debuts in recent memory.
I stumbled upon this record whilst browsing, not really looking for anything in particular. The artwork (courtesy of Travis Smith) prompted me to investigate further. Save for brief thirty second samples of each track, I really had nothing to go on: not once had I even heard passing mention of ‘Martriden’. Never the less what I heard intrigued me enough to warrant purchase and what I ended up with is one of the most promising debuts I’ve heard in some time.
Martriden combine elements of black and death metal into their sound, with vocalist Michael Cook effectively shifting between guttural growls and throaty rasp. Fans of Opeth and Emperor will likely find much to enjoy here. The EP is laden with furious riffing and harmony, both of which are carried out with precision, and for a first release, Matriden show great maturity in their song writing.
What stands out the most is just how layered the tracks are. I have been listening to this regularly for almost a year now and I still discover subtle elements I hadn’t previously noticed, largely due to keyboardist Kyle Howard, whose melodies permeate the heaviness that surrounds them. They are never intrusive and simply serve to strengthen the overall sound. The production, too, is also of a high quality with each instrument audible and crisp. On occasion the drums, chiefly the double bass, can at times sound slightly artificial, but this is never noticeable enough to detract from the overall sound.
Martriden manage to strike a balance within their music, segueing their way from all out heavy to softer acoustic passages that then build up till it is time for the distortion to kick in once more. This is especially noticeable on the track ‘Blank Eye Stare’, which contains one of the most climactic outros I’ve ever heard. If there is any criticism to be levelled at Martridens first outing it’s that their acoustic sections can at times seem slightly bare bones and you are often left with the feeling that had a little more thought gone into them they could have been expanded upon and improved.
Admittedly there aren’t exactly any particularly new ideas on show here and Martriden wear their influences brazenly on their sleeves, but they perform with such skill that lack of originality fails to become noticeable. The guitar work is exemplary for a first release, with guitarists Shane Howard and Will Thackery exercising restraint in their soloing and the overall composition never once fails to impress. What we have, then, is an EP that shows tremendous promise, and if Martriden continue to release material of such high quality there is no reason that they should not go far in the metal scene.