Review Summary: In their second album, Madder Mortem bring about a whole new musical aspect in their sound, highly attractive and original, yet not completely developed in every respect.
Things for Madder Mortem were not all too bright after the release of Mercury
. Their record company was shut down and three fifths of the band left to pursue endeavors, with little or no relation to the music industry. However, the Kirkevaag family resisted decay and completed the band line-up from scratch. Two years after their debut, the band released its second album, All Flesh is Grass
In most cases, big line-up changes have a profound effect on the way strings are pulled within a band and Madder Mortem's execution of All Flesh is Grass
is no exception. The 90’s gloomy “laid-back” goth/doom musical persona, previously found in Mercury
is almost completely absent, because the band brings about a whole new perspective in its songwriting ethics. The key difference lies in the nature of the guitar riffing, which is crushingly heavy, more energetically executed and almost “nu-metal” at times. Consequently, the energetic nature of the guitar riffing has a profound influence on both the rhythm section and the vocal performance. The songs are mid-tempo (a hybrid of energetic doom with nu-metal) for the most part with atmospheric passages or short outbursts interfering here and there, which give a pretentious progressive aura to the album.
The overall result is atmospheric metal that bares no resemblance to the mainstream ethics of the genre. However, there are certain flaws, such as the redundant repeating of refrains, while some really inspired riffs coexist with mediocre ones. Given the extended length of most of the songs, this situation can assess these songs as tiring to some listeners. Fortunately, there's only 2-3 examples of this at most. One other thing is that voice melodies may not seem so varied from song to song.
Each band member is fairly proficient in its duties (although not possessing any distinct technical virtue whatsoever), making the band sound real tight. The rhythm section is solid, as it avoids hanging in the balance during the course of each song. The two guitarists show that they really worked on their new riffing philosophy and they deliver on most part of the record, except for the aforementioned inspiration issues. Last but not least, vocalist Agnete Kirkervaag. The presence of her melodies swaying in the background throughout the atmospheric parts of the songs is remarkable, and juxtaposes well with her vigor and force when the songs build up in tension.
The sound production is a huge step forward for the band. Everything on All Flesh is Grass
is loud and clear. The bass is audible and the sound of the drums is natural (no triggers). The electric guitars sound extremely heavy (almost nu-metal at times) when things go wild and clear as spring water during the atmospheric parts. Agnete’s vocals are fairly high in the final mix and they are given the appropriate depth.
All in all, in their second album, Madder Mortem bring about a whole new musical aspect in their sound, which is highly attractive and original, yet it feels like it’s not completely developed in every respect. However, they are worthy of all possible praise, since they were not afraid to change their sound from its foundations, while rejoicing the somewhat stagnant waters of atmospheric metal.
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