Torment and despair come in so many forms it’s sickening. The injustices wrought upon 99% of us are varied. Most of us are so subtly affected it’s enough to become numb to the effects. For others it’s a thousand pound anchor slowly sinking us in a sea of misery. For some the bottom never comes, just a constant pull towards the center of the Earth and complete oblivion. It’s o.k. to get angry about it all. It’s o.k. to rage. It even feels good to do so from time to time and here we have the crux of why crust punk (and really any kind of politically or socially charged music) can be so empowering. Even when the songs aren’t about how to overthrow our oppressors the violence inherent in the music is like a shotgun blast inside a metal room, reverberating over and over and over. It’s this backdrop that Sweden’s Martyrdöd have used to build an extremely impressive discography. A discography that just got even more impressive with their newest full-length, Elddop.
There was a time when crust/D-beat was a very uniform genre. But over time it has joined the ranks of black and death metal with its ability to stretch the wings a little and allow for some very interesting experimentation. Martyrdöd have taken the chance on each album to explore their influences a bit and expand on what you’d traditionally consider crust punk. This album is no different. In fact it’s a furthering of the band’s songwriting mantra, which is apparently something along the lines of, “If it sounds good, we record it.” That’s a fantastic mantra to have and one that sees the band taking their music all over the metal map on this album. Whether it’s the Bolt Thrower styled brutality of album opener, “Nodkanal”, the upbeat, almost Maiden-esque, riffing and rhythms of “Victoria”, or the intensity and dramatic nature of the almost completely instrumental track “Martyren”, this is a band that is not afraid in the least of what the scenesters will be discussing at the proverbial water cooler.
Make no mistake though, no matter how much Martyrdöd dabble in the musically esoteric, there is no denying that their bread and butter is the open-handed slap to the face they can deliver with each track. They consistently have the potential to act like a bucket of ice cold water, altogether shocking the system with an icy blast. But again, these trips back to the crust well aren’t tiresome in the least. Rather, they are able to further accentuate just how brutal and powerful they can be by adding enough metal accoutrements to almost lull you into believing you’ve reached some sort of sonic safe house. But there are no safe houses here friends. No, Martyrdod has made sure that every safe house has been set ablaze and that every last nerve has been stripped bare and tap-danced on with ultimate precision.
Elddop hits the streets on July 22 via Southern Lord. You can currently stream the entire album over at Stereogum.