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Old May 27th, 2010, 12:28 PM   #26 (permalink)
WillMan
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Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized. Sometimes we want to get lost in something sweepingly complex that requires serious attention. Sometimes we want to be transported by something that’s beautiful as well as powerful.

Rarely, we find music that accomplishes all those objectives at once. Martriden’s latest album Encounter the Monolith pulls off that hat trick.

One of our faithful readers (the always astute Andy Synn) recommended Martriden to us, and man are we glad he did.

This music (released in February) puts us in mind of a Pacific storm surge assaulting a rocky coastline. Waves of “symphonic” black metal crash with explosive force against jagged stone (as at the outset of “The Three Metamorphoses”), and then the wave-front recedes in passages of relative calm, and the band shifts into prog-metal instrumentals reminiscent of Opeth.

The intensity builds again to full force as storm clouds roll inexorably overhead, heavy rain batters down (with Meshuggah-like pummeling, as on “Heywood R. Floyd”) and megatons of power explode with brute force.

And then at times, as in the beginning and middle of “Death and Transfiguration,” and unexpectedly in other songs, we can imagine the storm passing and glorious rays of sunshine piercing the clouds, when quiet instrumental passages take over or clean guitar leads emerge with soaring melodies. (more effusiveness follows after the jump, plus a song to stream . . .)
Michael Cook’s vocals rasp like a rusted hacksaw, singing of the vastness of the universe and a solitary questing for something undiscovered and transcendent. The layered and constantly changing tones of guitarists Will Thackeray and Shane Howard are brilliantly conceived, and they prove themselves as adept at everything from chugging riffs to tremolo-picked waves of viciousness to flights of prog-metal extravagance.

Kyle Howard’s keyboards are not ever-present and rarely full-forward in the mix, but when they appear, they make just the right contribution to the sweeping atmospherics, and guest musician Brian Mueller provides solid bass support, with occasional prominent riffs that add to the richness of this aural tapestry.

Sam Murphy also appears as the session drummer on this album, and he deserves special mention — because his work is fucking awesome. Like the music as a whole, he constantly shifts styles and techniques, producing rhythmic variations that are integral to the songs and jaw-dropping in their execution.

The album contains only six songs, and most are long, with the instrumental opus “Death and Transfiguration” topping 10 minutes. But so much happens within each song that despite their unusual length, we still wanted more when the endings arrived.

This is intelligent, sophisticated music played with top-shelf skill. We know “intelligent” and “sophisticated” are bad words for some of you when it comes to metal, but trust us: This is a powerful album that’s as heavy as it is sublime, and it deserves a helluva lot more attention than it’s getting.

This band claims Havre, Montana as its hometown. Their first album was released through SOAR and Candlelight, though this new one is completely DIY. The band recorded it themselves, released it on their own, and even turned to guitarist Shane Howard for the album art. You can buy or download the album either from CDBaby or via the band’s website at this location.
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Old June 20th, 2010, 05:24 PM   #27 (permalink)
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If that lot isn't exciting enough, the discoveries continue. An article on Invisible Oranges alerted me to a new death metal album from Martriden. Encounter The Monolith is a concept album based loosely on 2001, and uses Martriden's ludicrously fast beat to good effect. It's a 45 minute, 6 track album, and when it ends it seems like an age, yet no time at all. Once your ears get used to the onslaught of relentless drums and some superb guitar noodling, it's hard to slow down to the more pedestrian pace of normality. Bought it yesterday and managed 5 listens already. Enough said.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 12:58 AM   #28 (permalink)
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MARTRIDEN : Encounter the Monolith

Forty-five minutes of tripping metal. A big part of the sound is inspired by black metal and prog, and a penchant for long songs and exploration. These six songs in general have smooth transitions from faster parts, to proggy parts and the mellower/space metal elements.

This music requires patience and repeated listens: “Heywood R. Floyd” (8:42) makes it difficult to remember all the parts, since the mental traveling within the song is too much to understand in one listen. Definitely for the studious.

Who writes this music? Is it total metal nerds weeding out those with short attention spans or the simple-minded? Is it absent-minded musicians who pay no attention to time?

Who knows, but at least the following is clear: there are long segments without vocals; lots of proggy moments and black metal shriek style vocals.

“Death and Configuration” is more than ten minutes of mellow guitar work, keyboard/space moments, proggy segments, etc. It’s an instrumental song in which the band enjoy the twists and turns they have created for themselves.

But this band does have some easier songs. The title song (6:32) is a bit more straightforward, sort of “black metal/prog,” for this band. And actually, “Human Error?” (4:32) is an even more “normal” song with those shriek-growl vocals and proggy heavy parts. There are keyboards in the background of this song, for that big landscape feel. The band themselves likes to use astronomy pictures and images, which to them, we guess, is how they hear their own music: in terms of other worlds and other ways to write songs.

Listeners into long songs, proggy bands with a metal edge should have in this band a serious adventure that they need to investigate. If you like bands that think big-idea music. Good sound quality, too.

www.myspace.com/martriden
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Old June 30th, 2010, 12:58 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Well, we’ve got quite a monster on our hands this time.

Montana based band Martriden have been playing their epic brand of extreme metal for quite a couple of years now. They released two albums, Martriden and The Unsettling Dark which are both unheard of by me. In fact, I found the band by accident from a list of recommendations from a friend. The awesome cover art drew me in first and convinced me to press play. The song was The Three Metamorphoses and if isn’t one of the best epic black metal songs I’d ever heard then I’d be damned. Everything about it stuck out to me, the songwriting was beyond excellent with twists and turns that eventually built to an outstanding climax. The production was big and crisp without having that soulless pro tools feel. And best of all, I was high as balls when listening to it.

So I went back the next day and took another listen, this time without the aid of auditory and visual stimulants and by God, it was just as good as I had remembered. I quickly called every record store in town and tried to purchase it. Problem is, right now the band is only distributing the album themselves which is odd since they are listed as on Candlelight records everywhere else online. I am unaware of the band’s label status, but after the release of this album there is no reason why they should have to do things independently ever again.

Could the rest of the album be as good as The Three Metamorphoses? Well… no, actually. I’ve come to find that it is by far the best track on the album. But still! I came to find that the rest of the album was still fantastic and well deserving of my hard to earn praise.

I don’t want to go into one of those “It sounds like….” speeches that seem necessary in reviews, but without spoiling too much. Martriden play an extremely epic form of progressive metal. It strays in and out of death and black metal so often that I will just stick with black metal just for the sake of argument. The themes on this album revolve around space, more specifically Stanley Kubrick’s astonishing film 2001: A Space Odyssey. After all, if clues like the album cover and songs called Heywood R. Floyd (One of the characters from the movie) wasn’t enough spacey geekdom for you, then I don’t know what would be. It transcends normal sci fi fare in the same way that the film did, everything seems bigger and more important.

Like I said before, the sound is huge. Guitars are expertly played on all songs. Intense tremolo picking alongside almost Opeth like melodies have no trouble weaving in and out of eachother. The songs are long, which gives them enough time to flush out their ideas and see them through. Great moments occur at such times as the ending of Discovery or the mammoth ten minute long instrumental Death and Transfiguration. And if I have to mention one band that these guys have been listening to a lot lately, it would namely be Opeth. Luckily, they avoid and distinct similarties, and it mainly comes down to the mood. Oh, and that they use a freakin’ mellotron throughout many of the progged out moments. If that aint proggy enough for ya, there ain’t much that will be.

Martriden came at a real surprise to me. I had the album nearly two months before the other songs clicked for me, but while listening to it over and over to prepare for this review my stance changed. It was always good, and the first song I ever heard was still excellent. But now I appreciate the album for being a complete monster, and something that any fan of progressive music or just really epic metal would die for. So please, buy the album from them. Because if enough people do it we might even get something better next time.



Killing Songs : The Three Metamorphoses and Discovery are by far my favorites Crash 91 / 100
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Old August 4th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I have been following Martriden's career since their 2006 debut EP, and I thought their debut album The Unsettling Dark was a startlingly musical slab of feral aggression. This, their second full-length release, already shows Martriden pushing against the boundaries of their chosen genre and striving to create original, interesting music. Encounter the Monolith is not at all what I expected, but is a fascinating sophomore album nonetheless.
The musicianship and the maturity of the songwriting is really noticeable here, as without leaving their aggression or heaviness behind Martriden have created music that is always surprising and much deeper than it appears at first glance. I would call this progressive, but the playing is never showy, and the band's restraint and tact in the use of their individual instruments is really a pleasure. Nobody showboats or takes over the stage, and the band creates a really unified sound with the melding of their instruments. You get that sense, so rare these days, of a band working together, vibing off one another in the studio and feeding that group energy into the music. Martriden are still a Death/Black band, but not in the usual sense, as rather than just playing downtuned Black blasting they use Death rhythms and riff-patterns with an uptuned BM sound and big, melodic compositional style that recalls bands as diverse as Sear Bliss and Septicflesh. It is really difficult to pin down any other band to compare this to, as really Martriden have combined elements of extreme metal in ways that are new, or at least underused, creating a sound that is familiar on the surface, but unique in detail.
At first spin I thought this was not as good as The Unsettling Dark, as it is more sprawling and less aggressive, but repeated listens opened up the complexity and the satisfying depths of this disc. Martriden are a band to watch, as they are not content to simply tread water and do what is expected of them. This is a band determined to push the envelope, and there could well be greatness in store. This band is already doing great things, but a band this ambitious will not be content with that.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 05:12 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Had a little dry spell there with the reviews for Encounter...but I found one here http://www.metal-observer.com/articl...sid=6&id=17678

This is one of those “Can't see the wood for the trees” releases. At first listen you recognise that something involving is weaving its construct but further examination is required to see the detail of light dappling through the canopy, the mosaic of the foliage, the stoicism of the trunks and scurry of activity amongst the leaf litter. Once you've got your eye in though, there's plenty to explore within “Encounter The Monolith.”

Commonly labelled as Black/Death, that descriptive has faded since their last album, MARTRIDEN have have donned a pair of stout boots and gone wandering down far more progressive paths, these routes have led to influences that add new vistas to the band's compositions and that ultimately gives greater longevity with this more epic sound. Whilst the band sweep their brush across a wider spectrum, they retain a core of sophisticated Death Metal with Blackened influences, there is definitely concrete mixed into the kaleidoscopic display and whilst melodies frequently soar, a residual heaviness ensures that they don't break through the stratosphere. Still, that leaves an enormous amount of space for the band to express themselves within, and they certainly flex their creative muscle to the furthest extent.

I've mentioned the progressive nature of this album, well as the spotty gits were often heard to say; “I'll have a P please Bob.” Not only do MARTRIDEN send out adventurous filaments to add a lattice of refinement to their music, they embrace the Progressive too, never more so than on album closer “Death And Transfiguration,” which is nothing more than Humpbacked Prog Metal that goes from the thump to the sumptuous with uncanny ease. Whilst this final track is noticeably different to the others (quite apart from it being instrumental,) the distinction is more subtle than you would think, it's just that here the band have distilled the mix in favour of the more intricate. What precedes though has all the bastard hardness you would want, the band don't forget to devastate as they elaborate.

The atmosphere conjured depends on the listener but for me “Encounter The Monolith” speaks of man and machine and often the product of their joining, there's a mechanical intelligence underpinning the more cerebral creativity that gives life to the force of this album. MARTRIDEN are clearly comfortable with complexity, there's a flow that translates to a smooth ride even when there's some roughness to the terrain, they aren't bothered about who can climb highest up the tree and so the considerable clout dished out is commensurate with the prevailing ambience. Speaking of which, there is a sense of the sinister about this album, not in the staple occult fashion but in a way that suggests that the melding of muscle and metal, blood and oil is not going to lead to a glorious sunrise for Mankind.

Here's an album for when you don't want to be knocked senseless but would rather be seeing stars instead. There is a picture painted that will hold your attention until you're tripping over the resultant beard. Though there is a hefty persuasive punch in MARTRIDEN's arsenal, with their progressive panache, they've already got you.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 06:09 PM   #32 (permalink)
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we made a top 50 list of 2010 !

http://dontcountonitreviews.blogspot...s-of-2010.html
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