Martyrdod – List Review

Two years ago, Martyrdöd’s Eldopp very rightly found its way into many a year-end list, including Last Rites’ staff-wide Top 25 and a top ten spot on my personal list, placings that were each rightfully deserved. The band’s fifth album, Eldopp was a further refining of Martyrdöd’s signature sound, the crossing point between Anti-Cimex / Discharge d-beat rage and Bathory-esque epic black-ish melody. Other punk bands use melody, of course, but none achieve the fist-in-the-air metallic perfection that Martyrdöd brings. Most important of all, Eldopp was Martyrdöd’s finest hour thusfar, the brightest in a catalog full of stars.

Given that, and at least speaking for myself, expectations were kind of high for this one…

Perhaps List’s only real point of critical contention would be that it doesn’t really supersede its older brother. It’s a Martyrdöd record, which means that you already know what it sounds like, and here there are no significant deviations from the band’s established norm. But then again, it’s a Martyrdöd record, which means that it’s also stellar and so who cares if it’s all that varied from the last one, or the one before, or the one before? Like those that precede it, List is punk executed perfectly, with palpable passion and that same grandiose sense of melody that permeates everything this band has done so far, that same unbeatable energy generated in the push and pull between crashing punk chords and twisting folk leads.

Opener “Överlevaren” sticks more to the punk end of the band’s spectrum, but those trademark guitars arrive in full force for the second track, the title track, with its filtered breakdown placing the melodies front and center atop distant drums and an absent low-end before it all crashes back together in perfect rock ‘n’ roll synchronicity. Regrettably not the iconic surf song, “Wipeout” further features some sweet guitar shred, here in the form of both a great lead and a ripping solo, while first teaser track “Handlöst fallen ängel” sports some open-strummed chiming chords to balance against its blistering drive. One slight difference between List and its brethren is the inclusion of a nearly classical guitar piece in “Drömtid,” albeit one performed on an electric guitar. It’s brief, but it work well as a quick respite from the pounding punk around it. The album-closing tandem of “Intervention” and “Transmission” – two English-language titles, and in a row, no less! – round out the record in appropriately aggressive fashion.

Martyrdöd stands at the top of the crust-punk / d-beat pile, one of the scant handful of bands that can inject new life into a very stale (although often still enjoyable) formula. Eldopp was a new high for these Swedes, and the difference between it and List is a hair’s width. And really, whether one is better than the other, and which one it may be – well, that’s the sort of thing you can discuss with your friends over a drink of your choice, while you listen to both albums on endless repeat… Better or worse comes down to one person’s opinion, and when it comes to Martyrdöd, the only fact that really matters is that you absolutely need this album, just like you needed the one before, and the one before, and the one before…

So stop reading and get on it.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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