Madder Mortem - _All Flesh Is Grass_
(Century Media, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
I hoped Madder Mortem would be able to build on the quality of tracks like "The Grinding Silence" from their full-length debut _Mercury_ [CoC #37] to produce the outstanding follow-up record they appeared quite capable of achieving. As it turns out, Madder Mortem have followed a slightly different path, but have nevertheless succeeded in taking their sound to another, brilliant level. Agnete Kirkevaag is certainly not your average female vocalist, so do not expect sweet soprano vocals here -- this woman puts a lot of her soul into her vocals, which are skillful, emotional and creative, and occasionally also do carry the sort of subdued frailty that doom metal sometimes requires. Madder Mortem may still be likened to early The 3rd and the Mortal in some of their more tranquil passages, but the band spends most of the time delivering a very personalized mixture of crunchy, percussive riffing and doomy guitar work, a dynamic rhythmic backbone and Kirkevaag's distinctive vocals. Furthermore, through their intelligent songwriting Madder Mortem build and tear down musical structures made of atmospheric elements, doomy or rocking riffs remarkably well. Despite some line-up changes, Madder Mortem have matured and evolved in a way somewhat akin to Katatonia in terms of their sound, its variety not hampering the flow of the album, and its individuality never at stake. Coincidentally or not, Madder Mortem and Katatonia are also two of the very few bands whose lyrics I have found interesting recently. Whilst personally I still prefer Katatonia's _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_ [CoC #52], I think _All Flesh Is Grass_ is an achievement of similar proportions for Madder Mortem within their own musical style (which is not entirely comparable to Katatonia's, besides the obvious difference in the vocal department). Serious, mature, hard-hitting and emotional, _All Flesh Is Grass_ shows a band determined to follow their own path and forge their own sound -- and in this instance they have done so with excellent results.

(article published 12/8/2001)

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