Madder Mortem is downright weird. They aren’t terribly complex or “avant-garde”, but they’re just weird. Starting out as a gothic doom band, they released two records, both with good reception, which allowed them to gain a larger audience while touring with Tristania and Rotting Christ. Soon enough they landed a deal with The End records to release their third record, “Deadlands”, a darker and heavier album that caught a certain Mr. Akerfeldt’s attention, giving Madder Mortem the opening slot on the Deliverance tour. Further evolving their progressive doom edge with “Desiderata” (2006) and the new release of “Eight Ways”, they effortlessly stand apart and above their contemporaries through their sheer, passionate, and eclectic arrangements.
Within the jazzy drumming and the fluidly performed, harmonized guitars, the voice of one female Agnete Kirkevaag cordially soothes your soul before shrill shrieks tear it apart with said metaphorical beastliness because Eight Ways is all about polarities. The opener Formaldehyde induces lounge sensibilities for the first minute and a half before breaking into more doomy and aggressive territory; however the drums are still stuck in their jazz patterns. This track is perfect for showing off what Agnete brings to table as well. Songs like Amour and Resolution follow a more gothic metal representation but maintain that amorphous song structure as the music goes wherever it wants, whether it be polyrhythms or catchy choruses. Madder Mortem is very good at being audacious is such ways, furthermore adding to the excitement of hearing really groovy bass lines (When Dream And Day Collide) in between the album’s heaviest tracks or the almost nu-metal stylings of A Different Kind Of Hell that combines harmonized doom leads and slow, low rhythm lines as Agnete blows out her lungs. Also noteworthy is the guitar tone, especially the clean sound. It is the epitome of lush, bringing the King Crimson influence out of nowhere straight to the table.
Eight Ways is hard to pinpoint as far as its status of enjoyment goes because its melding of unconventionalities with dynamic clichés is frankly remarkable. Think what you may, you’ve never heard something like this before. Listening to this is like being swept away to a blue-filtered meadow picking flowers only with the biggest thorns while smiling unmercifully. Madder Mortem is without doubt a black sheep in the metal scene, and that’s just how it should be because not everyone can appreciate such rare flowers.