On the surface Madder Mortem seem like another in the long line of gothic metal bands with female singers popping up these days. Once the CD loaded in my player I realized I was sadly mistaken. This is brutally heavy stuff, kind of like a combination of Black Sabbath and Black Label Society (in the guitar work, anyway) mixed with operatic female vocals, all done with a very European feel.
I hear a little Annie Haslam, Grace Slick, and Anneke van Gersbergen in the voice of Agnete M. Kirkevaag. She has a very powerful vocal range, and she needs it to rise above the heavy onslaught of sledgehammer guitars. Keyboards are used minimally; instead all atmospheric sections utilize Agnete’s vocals and some light drums, before the thunder crashes back into the picture. “To Kill and Kill Again” sounds like some demented collision between Candlemass and the Jefferson Airplane, between the doom laden guitar dirges and wailing vocals. The band gets to rest for a bit on “Head On Pillow” and “Turn the War On,” which are quiet, introspective numbers that feature the lovely vocals of Angnete. These moments are fleeting, as the band cranks out one jackhammer riff after another on other tracks like “4 Chambers” and the killer “Breaker of Worlds.”
The fact that the band self-produced this CD is even more amazing, as I have not heard such crisp, crunchy guitar like this in a while. This is a all-around solid release, and as good a doom-filled metal statement as I’ve heard all year.