Madder Mortem
Deadlands


4.5
superb

Review

by Voivod STAFF
October 16th, 2010 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In Deadlands, Madder Mortem destroy, erase, improve and finally converge in nearly every aspect.

2001’s All Flesh is Grass marked the arrival of Madder Mortem into new and exciting grounds of artistic expression. However, its final merit signified that it was not what the band had exactly in mind. Of course, this assessment can be done right only if the artist takes a reasonably big temporal distance from his work, when the dust of the creative process is finally settled down. It is only then that the flaws become unquestionably and irritatingly present and corrective action has to be undertaken for their “near-zero” elimination. For Madder Mortem, a year was more than enough to bring this process into completion.

In Deadlands, Madder Mortem destroy, erase, improve and finally converge in nearly every aspect. The band continues to have a clear focus on the “nu metal” energetic goth/doom hybrid that was firstly implemented in All Flesh is Grass. Only now, things are far more interesting. The first thing that becomes apparent during the first few listening sessions is the tremendous improvement in the record’s flow from song to song. The unnecessary repetition of distinct musical phrases within the tracks – a drawback which was more than obvious in All Flesh is Grass – is now stripped down to minimum. The result is optimum temporal length and arrangement per song.

The aforementioned merit wouldn’t be characterized as such, if the themes played by the lead and the rhythm guitars weren’t so ridiculously improved. In that light, the riffing seems to be greatly influenced by the great works of mighty Meshuggah. Those influences have to do more with Messuggah guitarists’ mechanistic way of playing and less with their infamous complexity ethics. On the other side of the pedestal, Madder Mortem improve tremendously on the quality of the semi-electro-acoustic melodic, yet melancholic parts they endorse in the songs. In the aforementioned parts, one could see, besides the gothic influence, the vague presence of post-rock/metal elements as well.

The rhythm section is adequate at its duties. Although the bass is not shredding the universe, it is highly essential in its moves and, as it is audible, it complements more than adequately the essential guitar riffing. The drums follow the classic doom way, although a few surprises are more than welcome. For example, listen to the 60s doom rock rhythm in Necropol lit.

The vocals in this record deserve a thorough commenting and not only because Agnete Kirkervaag’s vocals are improved by a great margin. This time, the lyrics constitute an additional, yet beneficial, factor to this improvement. The central concept of certain songs – and of the record’s whole artwork – evolves around a world that has been destroyed completely and the few survivors are now brought about to the brink of extinction through famine, pestilence and slavery under the iron grip of a shadowy dictator. In that light, the survivors’ thoughts go around their loved ones before the Armageddon, their greed and arrogance that led them to this outcome, their inability to free themselves from captivity, physical, mental or moral, their belief that their offsprings are inheriting a dead world and the shame that comes with all of the above. Surprisingly, the concept shares many similarities with Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel published in 2006, The Road.

With this concept in her hands, Agnete becomes at each song a different oppressed human being and builds dissonant vocal harmonies characterized by cynicism, anger, guilt, despair and humbleness. It’s her godly vocal harmony near the end of Rust Cleansing. It's her smothering cynicism in "Omnivore". It’s her (more than) yelling confession of man’s decay throughout all the songs. Her performance lies near perfection, although she does not hold many of the technical virtues of her contemporary female colleagues.

The sound production is flawless. Although the guitars sound crushing, the bass is – as said earlier – audible and highly enjoyable. The high sound clarity truly highlights Agnete’s vocal performance and favors repeated listens.

In Deadlands the band realizes its musical philosophy in full. Seldom one will find an atmospheric metal record that combines tremendous emotional impact and the least of every possible pretense.

Recommended tracks:
Rust Cleansing
Omnivore
Silverspine
Deadlands
Resonatine



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user ratings (23)
Chart.
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2010


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Necropol Lit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyNuvLfq4qA



Omnivore:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WaaZS811Cc



Rust Cleansing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G40Y4dv3jb8



Faceless:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmEa3q9v4hk&feature=related



Distance Will Save Us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He9fn74ER-U



Silverspine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0iyfXl-1Xk



Jigsaw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewiUlmCPfT8&feature=related



Deadlands:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiE--PJD9MY&feature=related



Resonatine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiVTCJ8UVlk











Constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Reign - Destitute

Nagrarok
October 16th 2010


8588 Comments


You're a good writer, I don't think I've read any of your earlier ones yet (probably because the albums don't interest me), but you've commented on some of mine, so here you go.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2010


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the feedback Nag, much appreciate it.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2010


7504 Comments


First paragraph is a bit too heavy (and rather incomprehensible as to what you're trying to say, really), but aside from that this is good.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2010


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm just saying that the band had to take a certain distance from its previous record, so as to see more clearly its flaws and improve on them in its next effort.



i can see your point of view, though, at least up to a point.



thanx for the feedback.

Jethro42
October 16th 2010


15570 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

YaY, another band to enjoy. Good review Voivod, have a pos.

edit; band is seriously solid

scissorlocked
October 18th 2010


3528 Comments


This is the ultimate Voivod review till now!!!You have progressed so much as a writer man, in terms of describing the music and focusing on the various aspects of the album.

I've listened the album a year ago and seemed preety good and solid.

Keep up the good work bro!!!

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2010


17611 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

Good review. Like I said before, I can't get into the vocals.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2010


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanx for the feedback guys.



At instances, Agnete is overdoing it with the high pitch vocals, at which she is not so well trained, but their low and middle pitch ones are great.

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2010


17611 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

It's not the pitches that she uses, it's that she often sounds off-key.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2010


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

she often sounds off-key



When she goes high-pitch, this is undeniably obvious, however it isn't that annoying.



Αt low and middle pitch, though, she is doing fine.

fireaboveicebelow
December 24th 2011


6832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

However, its final merit Not sure what you mean by merit, wrong word?



Only now things are far more interesting. Add comma after "now"



semi-electro-acoustic melodic, yet melancholic, parts they endorse Remove second comma



Although the bass is not shredding the universe, it is highly essential in its moves and, as it is audible, it complements more than adequately the essential guitar riffing. Do you think that's better for the music? Say so, you said why.



For example, listen to the 60’s rock n’ roll/doom main rhythm in Necropol lit. I would reword to "...60s doom rock rhythm..."



The vocals in this record deserve a thorough commenting and not only because Agnete Kirkervaag’s vocals are improved by a great margin. This time, the lyrics "...improved by a great margin, but also because the lyrics constitute an additional, yet beneficial, factor to their impact."



The central concept of certain songs What about the songs that don't fit the concept? Are they out of place? Actually I would put this section on the concept closer to the beginning of the review so you can paint the picture earlier, giving more texture to the comments you make on the other instruments.



It’s her reciting, while she’s drowning in cynicism, in Omnivore. Reciting is just singing, reword to something like "It's her smothering cynicism in Omnivore."



although she does not hold many of the technical virtues of her contemporary female colleagues. Such as? Would having those other skills make her better, would it fit better with the music?





The sound production is flawless. Although the guitars sound crushing, the bass is – as said earlier – audible and highly enjoyable. The high sound clarity truly highlights Agnete’s vocal performance and favors repeated listens. Unnecessary paragraph, you can make quick quips on these things while discussing the instruments.



As a conclusion, in Deadlands the band realizes its musical philosophy in full. Remove "as a conclusion" and change to "In Deadlands, the band...."



Seldom one will find "Seldom will one find"



Abrupt conclusion, rearranging bits of this will help give it more of an arc. This is key to sounding more fluid and knowledgable, which you can do, you have the words, just make it sound more like you.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2011


8052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the feedback, did a lot of edits.



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