Madder Mortem
Mercury


3.5
great

Review

by Voivod STAFF
September 5th, 2010 | 9 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In their debut, Madder Mortem, succeed in capturing the very essence of the Gothic/Doom metal sound, adding, however, some of their own personality to the genre’s universal constants.

It is common ground that history is written by people spinning copiously around the means to an end. One of those people is, without a doubt, a female British citizen by the name of Tiziana Stupia. It was in 1993. Being a dedicated Burzum fan, she couldn’t put up with the fact that Burzum couldn’t find a record contract to release their (then) new album. This was due to Varg Vikernes’s problems with Norwegian authorities. She sent letters to several record companies expressing her request, but no record company wanted anything to do with Burzum or Vikernes at that time. In cases such as this, the only way is the DIY way. Tiziana followed the advice of a music industry corporate member, founded Misanthropy records and finally eased her mind. Although the record company was founded for the sole purpose of that particular Burzum album release (for the history, it was Hvis Lyset Tar Oss), that album sold surprisingly well. That pushed Tiziana to run Misanthropy records as a full time company, signing up other bands as well. And gosh, what bands did she chose indeed... Fasten your seat belts boys and girls: Arcturus, Beyond Dawn, Fleurety, In the Woods…, Katatonia, Mayhem, Monumentum, Primordial, Solstice and Ved Buens Ende. La crème de la crème of the European avant-garde metal scene, hands down. The company’s last entry was Madder Mortem, a band from Norway and their debut album was Mercury.

In their debut, Madder Mortem, succeed in capturing the very essence of the gothic/doom metal sound, adding, however, some of their own personality to the genre’s universal constants. This holds due to 2 things.

First, the band avoids building its songs solely on keyboards, a common practice for the majority of gothic metal bands during the late 90’s, that made them sound ridiculously similar. In Mercury, keyboards have a mild and discrete role on all songs, as they serve as interludes at the beginning of or within them, whereas at times they serve as a thin "transparent" layer upon the basic rock orchestration (two guitars, bass and drums). The band’s musicians are fairly proficient in their duties as players and composers. The songs’ backbone is built upon two separate concepts. The first evolves around the fruitful controversy rising from the combination of powerful rock/metal guitar riffs with dark electro-acoustic guitar melodies. The second lies upon the successful blending of acoustic guitar influenced doom riffing with mesmerizing semi-lead, semi-rhythm electric or acoustic guitars. The rhythm section sounds equally diverse. The drumming is energetic at times (one can hear even double bass pounding) or wisely quiet. Finally, the bass, which is heard quite clearly, follows either the drums, or the guitars, but quite a few times, neither of them.

Second, it’s the female vocals. Instead of the common "thin soprano" mournful female vocals that most gothic metal bands had in the late 90’s, copying the style of Theatre of Tragedy or The Gathering, Agnete Kirkevaag’s vocals are different, yet convincing. Her vocals follow closely the main melody in each song. Most of the time, she sounds low-to-middle-pitch, but in moments she is going high-pitch as well with fair success, accompanying at times the guitar melodies with her vocals. Her approach is soothing and emotional.

The sound production is fairly good and totally in the spirit of the gothic/doom metal genre. That is a big deal, especially if one considers the fact that Madder Mortem was a totally underground band, signed by a totally underground record company. All instruments are sounding as they should, although one could say that the guitars lack in "weight". Something that’s most welcome is that the bass is audible, especially when the tone within the songs lowers. Agnete’s vocals are rather low in the final mix and as a consequence, they sound somewhat "distant", but this not a drawback by any means.

The overall result of music and vocals, are songs that flow optimally, leaving the listener with a feeling of comfortable numbness.

Despite the lauding reception after the release of Mercury, Misanthropy records was shut down, as Tiziana went out to become a pagan priestess. Madder Mortem were left without a label contract and three band members parted ways, due to this shortcoming. The quality of this record, however, provided the remaining band members, Agnete and BP Kirkevaag, with enough momentum to set up a new line-up, pursuing new and exciting endeavors…



Recent reviews by this author
Voivod VoivodEssence Beyond Carnivalism
Electric Citizen SateenVicious Rumors Live You to Death 2 - American Punishment
Mayhem Esoteric WarfareThe Graviators Motherload
user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2010


6146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Undertow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDHeOcIYInY&feature=related


Under Another Moon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOr6N8IAIa0&feature=related


He who Longed For The Stars:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFypef8_rJ8&feature=related


These Mortal Sins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x968jiScvlg&feature=related


The Grinding Silence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5x5aeSChng&feature=related


Loss:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaR6ZHbnSKw&feature=related


Remnants:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ8je5cVaQw&feature=related


Misty Sleep:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdlkbWH58lc


Convertion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbgPehPH8KY&feature=related



Constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Raven Throne - ???????? ?????????

scissorlocked
September 6th 2010


3510 Comments


very well written and solid review,once again great job Voivod

I usually dislike 90's gothic metal bands,but Madder Mortem bears no resemblance with all these

haven't heard Mercury though,maybe I should check it

listened to Eight ways a week ago and it was brilliant

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010


6146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The first time i listened to Mercury it felt like a 2.5-3.0/5.0, but the more i listen to it, the rate is bumped between 3.5-4.0/5.0

The rating is 3.5 because, for 90's standards, it's definitely a 4.0/5.0, but for 2010's standards in gothic/doom metal, it is a 3.0/5.0

Hence the rating is in between, thus 3.5/5.

Shimbodono
September 6th 2010


8 Comments


Great review Voivod. It does justice to this album (which I just heard on Youtube lol), which is just the second step (after Misty Sleep) in Madder Mortem's discography.


Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010


6146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol

That's why i put youtube links, where available.

read the review while listening to the album.

miltos
September 7th 2010


1 Comments


Nice review. Their last opus, "Eight Ways", was sensational. Such a pretty good band.

fireaboveicebelow
December 24th 2011


6837 Comments


Normally I would say a story in a review is not necessary but I like how you tied it in, especially since this is their first record. I met someone like that at Gathering of Shadows, she was dating a guitarist from Secrets of the Moon and used to work for Century Black, apparently helped sign Ulver, Emperor, Moonspell, Satyricon, and Katatonia. But anyhoo

Your "first" point is good, though I would try to make this part flow a bit better instead of having it sound like a list.

"The rhythm section sounds equally diverse. The drumming is energetic at times (one can hear even double bass pounding) or wisely quiet. Finally, the bass, which is heard quite clearly, follows either the drums, or the guitars, but quite a few times, neither of them."

And this: Second, it’s the female vocals. By now the reader has forgotten the continuity to this so I would reword it.

Instead of the common high-pitch "thin soprano" Soprano infers high-pitch.

copying after the style of Theatre of Tragedy or The Gathering Delete "after"


Most of the time, she sounds low-to-middle-pitch, but in moments she is going high-pitch as well with fair success, accompanying at times the guitar melodies with her vocals. Her approach is soothing and emotional. Add the last sentence to the first and reword it to something like "...with her vocals, resulting in a soothing and emotional approach."

The sound production is fairly good and totally in the spirit of the gothic/doom metal genre....... All instruments are sounding as they should You still haven't described it, just need a brief comment.

The overall result of music and vocals, are songs that switch places the one with the other with optimum flow, leaving the listener with a feeling of comfortable numbness. This feels like it should be put elsewhere, and I don't know what you mean by "songs that switch places the one with the other". And here's where you could add a comment on the dreamy aspect of the record.

Conclusion is fine but a bit abrupt in transitioning to it. You can fix that by doing something like "Despite the lauding reception after the release of Mercury, Misanthropy records was shut down"

If you fix all that it'll be a strong review. Or, ya know, fix what you want haha

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2011


6146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the feedback, i'll edit in due time.






edit: followed some of your leads, it looks better indeed.

YUJOS
December 29th 2012


926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Vre tin Tiziana...poly kalo gousto i madam.

Digging: Misery Index - The Killing Gods



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy