Madder Mortem - _Deadlands_
(Century Media, 2002)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
Once in a while a band comes along that really surprises me. With _Deadlands_, Madder Mortem have just made it into the restricted group of those who have successfully surprised me twice in a row. After changing half or more of the band's members after their debut full-length _Mercury_ (which, in the light of their last two records, I overrated back then), Madder Mortem proceeded to release two albums that failed to make much of an impact upon first listen. I had little expectations for _All Flesh Is Grass_, but after a few listens it really started making sense and won quite a lot of admiration from me. _Deadlands_, coming along on the wake of _All Flesh Is Grass_, consequently faced much higher expectations, and that initially seemed set to be its undoing. It simply failed to live up to its predecessor. That was until it too started making sense, not as the successor of a great album but as an album in its own right. It's different, yet still very much Madder Mortem. It won me over like its predecessor did, only for different reasons that took me a while to figure out. Yet with every listen, nearly all the tracks seemed to come forth a bit more, until finally I conceded to myself that the album was at least as great as _All Flesh Is Grass_. Madder Mortem are unafraid to sound strange at any given time, and they definitely do their own thing, which is what makes them unique. A track like "Rust Cleansing", with its guitar lead interweaving with the vocals and the crushing main riff and drum work throughout the song's remarkable structure, can only come from a highly inspired and talented band who doesn't mind being labeled as 'different'. Of course Agnette Kirkevaag's powerful, inspiring vocals are on the forefront of the sound again, and on tracks like the excellent "Omnivore" I wouldn't like to stand in her path. Much like the rest of the band, she is not just talented: she is willing to experiment, and does so with great results. The instrumental side can move the music from doomy and introspective to angry and crushing, with some really heavy, rhythmically challenging riffs alternating with great leads and vocals. Madder Mortem sound fresh and unique in a world of copycats, although bound to be misunderstood by a lot of people (perhaps even the majority). As far as I'm concerned, I just can't wait to see what they'll come up with next and whether they can maintain this level of quality and originality.


(article published 26/3/2003)

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