With each album, Madder Mortem have always managed to explore different moods and soundscapes while retaining their musical identity. “Marrow”, to be released on the 21st of September through Dark Essence Records, is no exception. It’s a departure from the heavier sounds of “Red In Tooth And Claw”. In fact, it’s a departure from any of their previous albums regardless of how heavy or dark they sound. This is a more melodic album that seems to embrace more influences of others genres besides metal.
Sounding as great as ever, Agnete M. Kirkevaag’s clean, soothing, almost jazz-like yet powerful timbre helps to provide the signature sound that the band is known for. As before, the guitarist BP. M. Kirkevaag occasionally lends his vocals, with a blend of clean and gutural style. The dynamic between Agnete and BP provides the interesting textures, and often it’s when their voices play together that you can hear some of the album’s highlights.
As mentioned, this is an album that spans across different moods and experiments with different genres. The album opens up with the dreamy turned nightmarish track “Untethered” and immediately shifts gears with some furious bass lines of “Liberator”, which sends a clear message with the verse “we know who we are and where we belong, the stars are ours to own”. From here on, the album keeps fluctuating between radio-friendly tunes and others who dive into the darkest depths of doom metal. The highlights of this album are definitely the headbanging-worthy tracks “My Will Be Done”, “Marrow” and the undeniably beautiful “Stumble On”. The album approaches it’s end with the progressive “Waiting To Fall”, which travels through all the different moods in the album. The album closes with “Tethered”, an alternative version of the opening track “Untethered”.
While I can’t fault any song individually, I can’t help but feel a bit conflicted about the album as a whole. I praise the band for fearlessly and effortlessly playing around with different ideas. It feels like this is the album they wanted to make and not something to simply please fans or a label. Objectively speaking, this is a great album and I love each and every single song. Every single track is masterfully crafted and laid out, showing these are very skilled musicians who put their soul into their music. There is enough variety to keep listeners engaged and to attract different crowds. On the other hand, the album feels less cohesive than the previous ones and I wish there was more of the heavier and darker material which I came to like and associate to the band.