Martriden's third release Encounter the Monolith sees the band separating ties with Candlelight Records and putting the CD out on their own. This hasn't proved to be much of a distraction, as the band from Montana continues to push the boundaries of extreme metal, proving that The Unsettling Dark was by no means a fluke. Encounter the Monolith (great title by the way) features only 6 songs, each of near epic length, and features such a wide variety of styles that it's almost impossible to classify the band. There's more of a reliance on black metal and progressive metal flavors here, though the death metal presence remains the foundation.
Thoughtful lyrics, bone crunching guitars, and powerful keyboards make up the killer track "Heywood R. Floyd", a tune that will please those into the more 'progressive' sounds of the genre, especially the atmospheric & symphonic middle section. "The Three Metamorphoses" is crushing extreme metal, complete with plenty of complex passages, and "Discovery" starts off as an epic doom piece before the bands blasts into black metal hyperdrive. Michael Cook's gargled wailings here are perfect-once again, this is an extreme metal singer who is quickly becoming one of the best in the business, and it's time for people to take notice. "Human Error" is almost 'catchy' in a way, and the CDs shortest cut at just over 4 minutes, and the title track is a boiling, symphonic cauldrom of varied metal styles, steeped in atmosphere and dramatic energy. The closing 10-minute epic "Death and Transfiguration" show Martriden at their creative best, as they take the listener through a winding journey of moods, tones, and textures, much like classic Opeth, that never fails to envelope your senses. Layered guitar riffs, intricate drum fills, soaring keyboards, and haunting atmosphere-it's all here on this memorable instrumental that closes out this stunning CD.
I'm still not sure why Martriden isn't 'the most talked about extreme metal band' out there right now. Let's face it, these guys are creating music that's leagues more interesting, powerful, and creative than most bands who reside on the major metal labels rosters these days. If you really want to dig into some 'progressive extreme metal', then do yourself a favor and check out Encounter the Monolith. It's certain to be one of the best releases you'll hear this year. Trust me.
1. The Three Metamorphoses
2. Heywood R. Floyd
4. Human Error?
5. Encounter The Monolith
6. Death and Transfiguration