Swedish crust punk stalwarts Martyrdöd return with their fourth album, recorded at the infamous Studio Fredman (favoured by At The Gates, Opeth and Amon Amarth) and with a production that is a little fatter and cleaner than previous outings.
Fortunately the slightly beefier sound does nothing to strip away the layers of vicious piss and vinegar brutality one expects from these underground kings.
Each track comes bursting out of the starting gates and charges at you like a rabid greyhound, snarling and grimacing all the way. Mikael Kjellman’s vocals still sound like a cross between Barney from Napalm Death and Mayhem’s erstwhile screecher Dead and that is a glorious combination. Every syllable is wrung out of him with such exasperated anger that you wonder what he is so pissed off about. Sadly my Swedish is limited so I guess I will never know, but boy does it make for a refreshing listen.
The album does have its moments of light and shade too, with the occasional slower section and splashes of colour here and there attributable to the sort of melody favoured more commonly by death metal bands. These moments are brief and the touches of melody are still jarring and abrasive, so the pace is maintained, as is the aggression.
Unusually for a crust band there are some fine leads and solos tucked away amongst the barrage of snotty riffs and they are a nice reminder that some punk bands really can play their instruments.
The overall feel is of a band perhaps ready to progress to the next level and truly define their own sound. Hints of metal and grindcore bubble under the surface and allude to a fusion of noise that really could set them apart from their contemporaries.
But that’s all supposition and guesswork as to how they may evolve in the future. For my money they could keep churning albums out just like this and I’d be a very happy man. Visceral, life-affirming and unrelentingly angry – Martyrdöd have managed to create an aural assault that is truly nasty – and I mean that as a sincere compliment.