Norway’s Madder Mortem are another prime example of a particular style of progressive metal that seems to only come from Norway or … San Francisco? Obviously inspired by black metal while sounding nothing like it, their true peers include Giant Squid (R.I.P.), Khorada (welcome to the party!) and A Forest of Stars (Hey, didn’t I just blog about you?).
The prime feature of this style must be excellent clean vocals that oppress the listener with sheer eccentricity. Somehow Corpsegrinder is more easily digestible than this stuff. True to form, lead vocalist Agnete Kirkevaag shines in Madder Mortem. The interplay between her gothic-vaudeville runs and her brother BP’s guitar licks is the absolute core of the band’s sound, and this year’s Marrow is their most melodic showcase yet.
Their songwriting dances in and out of genres and time signatures. Madder Mortem changes from song to song the way Faith No More’s did in the early 90s. Shades of psychedelia and unabashed balladry give way to syncope, almost hardcore grooves and bursts of sunspot-intensity. Sample how the tenderness of “Until you Return” clashes with the sludgy “Thy Will Be Done”. I could give a song-by-song breakdown but really, it would be more expedient to listen to every song on Marrow. Lucky you, it’s streaming below.
Marrow is out this Friday via Dark Essence Records.