Antestor - Martyrium
This wonderful album was originally recorded in 1994, but it wasn't until 2000 that this album was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. The website I ordered this disc from stated simply, yet truthfully that this was "atmospheric black metal at its best" and whatever you decide to call it: atmospheric black metal, extreme metal, sorrow metal, or just simply black metal there is no denying that this is metal at its absolute best.
The CD kicks off with the jaw dropping sorrowful intro of "Spiritual Disease". Slow, creepy black metal vocals complement the mood of the song perfectly. Martyr's voice is just drenched with emotion throughout the entire song. There is no comparison to the vocal skills in the black metal world to Martyr. Think of Galder from Old Man's Child, Satyr from Satyricon, and Naer Mataron's Morpheas all thrown into a blender and that should give you some idea of Martyr. It's hard to believe that "Spiritual Disease" is one of the weakest songs on the album!
"Depressed" is a killer song starting off with a slow keyboard intro and then some clean vocals once again complements of the great Martyr. With the intro to this song its easy to see why Antestor used to refer to themselves as sorrow metal. Don't be confused about the calm intro as the majority of the song is black metal with some sick shredding guitars and incredible drumming that showcases Armoth's ability to play slow as well as fast. The song is basically about depression and shows how easy it is to give into the Father of Lies if we don't give our life over to Jesus.
The next song is "Searching" and starts off pretty darn fast. The verses just make you want to sing along and as a result would be an absolute killer song to play live. My only complaint is the chorus which is whispered instead of sung. I can't understand why they did that since it weakens an otherwise strong track.
Track 5 is "Inmost Fear" and this song friggin slays! It starts off with some creepy guitar work and then after about a minute some deep almost doomy vocals assault the speakers. The double bass kick really adds to this song and I would be amiss if I failed to mention the dual guitar work of Vemod and Pilgrim (Crimson Moonlight) they showcase their ability to play fast when Martyr isn't singing and then slow right down to complement the vocal style that Martyr chose for the majority of the song. The bass line is sickeningly heavy and absolutely destroys as the song nears its end.
"Under the Sun" can be classified under insane fury, the band goes all out in this song and switches from super fast to fast to super fast to slow with stunning ease. You just have to listen to it since there is no band that sounds similar and I don't have enough adjectives to accurately describe this wonderful piece.
The last song is "Mercy Lord" and starts off super slow bringing to mind Paramaecium and Virgin Black. The song slowly, but steadily gets faster and more black metally as the song progresses. The song is basically a prayer to God and is their rendition of Psalm 51. The song (and sadly the CD) end with some beautiful female vocals courtesy of Tora. She is an amazing singer and thankfully isn't a soprano which many black metal bands seem to enjoy injecting into their songs.
I know I'll probably be in the minority, but in my opinion Martyrium is a much better album than both Det Tapte Liv and The Forsaken. Both those albums are quite good, but Martyr just owns Vrede in the singing department. The music is also much more interesting and I seem to get more into it than the other two albums. It may be difficult to find this album, but if you can get it then do so... IMMEDIATELY.
Review By: Joel Hemmerling
Label: Endtime Productions, 2000
Total Songs: 9
Total Time: 47:09
Tracklisting: 1. Spiritual Disease, 2. Materialistic Lie, 3. Depressed, 4. Searching, 5. Inmost Fear, 6. Under the Sun, 7. Thoughts, 8. Martyrium, 9. Mercy Lord
Best Songs: Tracks 2, 3, 5, and 6
Band Lineup: Vemod - Guitars, keyboards, and back ground vocals, Armoth - Drums, Pilgrim - Guitars, Martyr - Lead vocals, Gard - Bass
Band Website: http://www.antestor.com