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Madder Mortem - Old Eyes, New Heart review




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Band: Madder Mortem
Album: Old Eyes, New Heart
Release date: January 2024


01. Coming From The Dark
02. On Guard
03. Master Tongue
04. The Head That Wears The Crown
05. Cold Hard Rain
06. Unity
07. Towers
08. Here And Now
09. Things I'll Never Do
10. Long Road


It takes Madder Mortem less than 20 seconds to deliver one of this year's most memorable choruses.

The previous time that I covered Madder Mortem I spent a lot of time talking about how hard they are to pin genre-wise, and it's true that they are versatile and still end up pretty much only sounding like themselves regardless of how wild the territories that their versatility takes them are. And those territories aren't really that wild, but adventurous and diverse enough that it earned them the "avant-garde" tag. It's a bit weird to still relate to them as such, because in over a quarter of a century what is forward-thing can change. Madder Mortem sound less out-there in 2024 than they did in 1999. And that's the case with a lot of bands that carry that same "avant-garde metal" tag. And that's ok. If I can't expect standard sounding bands to constantly reinvent themselves, I certainly don't expect that from bands that never sounded standard.

One band that I'm reminded of most while listening to Old Eyes, New Heart is Vulture Industries, another one of these "avant-garde" bands that ended up sounding less and less so despite not switching up their core sound. And the moments that sound most similar between the two are the ones that are a bit more loosely bluesy and jazzy, which are territories where both bands have found a more dramatic and theatrical (Madder Mortem more the former, Vulture Industries more the latter) and very moody and emotional. Having metal blend with sounds like that was forward-thinking at one point, but even more important than the fact that both bands were innovative is the fact that both bands are damn good at making music memorable. No other bands could write a song as sultry as "Cold Hard Rain" not because it's out-there but because no other band could make it feel this heartfelt in both its mellow and its heavy moments.

And that's why I made that point in my teaser. Not all songs are that instantly likeable and memorable as the opener "Coming From The Dark" is, but that's a song that starts with a chorus (well, after some mood-setting wish-wash) and that's one that I already had a lot of familiarity with on my second listen, and that's something that happened with a lot of vocal lines on Old Eyes, New Heart. It's the perfect balance of some really well-written vocal lines and them being delivered by such a powerful voice as Agnete M. Kirkevaag's. The rest of the band can create some really great riffs and melodies (the guitar twirls of "Here And Now" are some of the best prog I've heard lately), and a lot of what works in the huge contrast between the mellow/heavy sounds are because of them, but because of how the songs are on the relatively shorter side, a lot of it feels written around Agnete's voice, and a huge part of the album's impact continues to lie within it.

It's really nice to have this much fun with a band's album released more than two decades into their career. Perhaps what Madder Mortem struck gold with the fact that the sound they created for themselves is one that's so versatile and hard to stagnate within even without changing it fundamentally. Madder Mortem can continue to just be Madder Mortem for more decades to come as long as they keep being good at writing and performing the sound they created.






Written on 05.02.2024 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 65 users
05.02.2024 - 22:51
Rating: 9
MetalManic

I quite enjoyed this. You said it best, there are a lot of "well-written vocal lines". Definitely a nice listening experience.

Master Tongue has a nice Jesus Christ Pose (Soundgarden) vibe to it.
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06.02.2024 - 09:09
nikarg

Written by MetalManic on 05.02.2024 at 22:51

Master Tongue has a nice Jesus Christ Pose (Soundgarden) vibe to it.

I was trying so hard to remember what the bass line reminded me of, thanks! It is my favourite song on the album.
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08.02.2024 - 02:40
Rating: 9
MetalManic

@RaduP - Weirdly enough, after having listened to this album several times, I happened upon Winds - Prominence and Demise (2007) in my personal collection. Haven't listened to it in years. Guess who does the female guest vocals on it? Yep --Agnete.

If you have not checked out this album, consider doing so. It's one hell of a listen.
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08.02.2024 - 10:25
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by MetalManic on 08.02.2024 at 02:40

@RaduP - Weirdly enough, after having listened to this album several times, I happened upon Winds - Prominence and Demise (2007) in my personal collection. Haven't listened to it in years. Guess who does the female guest vocals on it? Yep --Agnete.

If you have not checked out this album, consider doing so. It's one hell of a listen.

Just gave it a proverbial spin. Neat discovery but for some reason didn't really gel with it.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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