The lads from Montana are back! Eager to show the world that their 4-song self titled EP from 2007 was no fluke, Martriden have here their first full-length release, titled The Unsettling Dark, which is a bold and powerful display of ferocious black & death metal styles that contains plenty of melody and progressive nuances. If you thought the debut had plenty of promise, you haven't heard anything yet. While the influences of Opeth, Enslaved, Behemoth, Emperor, and My Dying Bride can be heard, the band is quickly forging their own style, bringing together many textures and sounds (much like another great new band, Nahemah) that culminates in a greatly varied platter of extreme music.
From the majestic & powerful opening notes of the "Intro", you are instantly aware that it's going to be one hell of a ride here on The Unsettling Dark. From there the band crashes right into the raging symphonic black metal attack of "The Enigma of Fate", a real killer piece with manic blast beats, keyboards, crushing riffs, and harsh black metal vocals, giving this song a real Scandinavian feel not too distant from Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Old Man's Child, or Emperor. From there the band lurches into venemous death metal territory, lead singer Michael Cook sounding like a cross between Behemoth's Nergal, Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath, Mikael Stanne from Dark Tranquility, and Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy. It's his varied vocal attack that takes these kick-ass songs to new heights, and although it's early in his career, he has the goods to one day potentially be looked at as one of the best singers in the genre. Extremely technical death metal is the name of the game on "The Ascension Part 1", complete with wild drum blasts and some sick guitar riffs, but then the band goes into melodic, atmospheric, & progressive territory on "The Ascension Part 2", featuring some wonderful guitar lines that will instantly remind of Opeth.
"Processional for the Hellfire Chariot" is a real bruiser, a death metal track with plenty of groove and evil growls, and the title track sees the dark atmosphere again creep in, with haunting keyboards and lush acoustic guitars at the intro, eventually giving way to some doomy riffs before the whole band jumps back in with a frenzied mix of black metal & the galloping rhythms of vintage Iron Maiden. If it sounds like an interesting ride on this piece it certainly is! Perhaps the strongest song here though is "Prelude", a full-on symphonic black metal feast, with rapid-fire blast beats, rippling guitar work, orchestral keyboards, and Cook's gurgling rasps. This one's as epic and exhilarating as it gets folks, but they don't let up there, as "A Season in Hell" once again combines the black & death metal styles into one crushing yet melodic experience. The final track, "Immaculate Perception", is a gorgeous instrumental, which closes out the CD on a somber note, with tender acoustic guitars and chilling synth washes.
The Unsettling Dark has definite album of the year potential, and is proof that Martriden are a band with major talent and destined for great things. To top everything off, the CD was produced by Dave Otero from Cephalic Carnage, and sounds fantastic, and the enchanting artwork was done by Erik Olafsson. In summary, a stunning release.
1. Intro 0:40
2. The Enigma of Fate 5:35
3. The Calling 5:07
4. The Ascension Part 1 3:26
5. The Ascension Part 2 4:07
6. Processional for the Hellfire Chariot 4:35
7. The Unsettling Dark 6:15
8. Prelude 5:15
9. A Season in Hell 4:48
10. Immaculate Perception 3:33