Madder Mortem. No, I don’t know what it means either. It could be a cage fighter I suppose; an MMA version of Tyson Fury.
An extensive trawl of their website informed me that they started life as Mystery Tribe over 30 years ago, formed by two siblings, Agnete and BP M. Kirkevaag, and that the name was changed a few years later.
They’ve had numerous stops and starts along the way and various changes of personnel (see that website for more information but be sure that you’ll be in for a long read!), building up a substantial following while releasing (with this one, ‘Old Eyes, New Heart’) eight albums.
It was written and recorded during a lengthy time of stress for the band irrespective of all the stuff everybody has had to go through these last few years as the siblings lost their father, who had been a staunch supporter over the decades, last year.
As a fitting memorial one of his paintings has been used as the cover art for the album. You can see it on the Spotify link
The album deals with hope, disappointment, and the ambivalence that can lie between them. That is an interesting observation and one that hadn’t occurred to me – that there can be a ‘middle ground’ between those two states of mind, a sort of no-man’s land.
I was attracted to Madders Mortem when I read the PR description of them being a ‘progressive metal band.’ That is only the second time I came across such a phrase; I didn’t know there was such a thing as prog metal although I realised I have been listening to it for quite a few years now.
What I mean is that I’m an original 1970’s prog rocker and more recently acquired a taste for symphonic metal although that is almost exclusively channelled through Nightwish, I wouldn’t describe myself as a metal head.
So anything that potentially combines the two is right up my street.
That’s not to say that Madder Mortem is entirely wedded to prog or metal. Like several bands in this genre they are quite capable of producing high standard music in others like folk (which I hear quite a lot in this album) and a hint of Americana here and there.
I notice though that the track from the album with by far the greatest number of hits on Spotify is an out and out thrasher and I suspect that is what their fans really respect them for.
After a lengthy album review last night we’ve only time for a sample track tonight and I selected the opener, ‘Coming from the dark’.
It took only a few seconds for them to win me over. They know how to build atmosphere epically, have a very tight rhythm section across sections that are not easy to co-ordinate, especially live, with multiple and abrupt time signature changes, excel at producing work as doom laden as it should be for this genre, and with a female vocalist in Agnete, have one that can stand with the very best of them in the business.
When she sings, “All of our goals will be met”, you’d better believe it.
‘Old Eyes, New Heart’ was released on January 26th on Dark Essence Records
Limited LP versions are available on white and transparent blue vinyl (250x each).
Digital singles for ‘Towers’, ‘The Head that wears the Crown’, and ‘Unity’ have already been released.
They are confirmed for the Inferno Festival 2024 and more concerts are to be announced.
Find them on: