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Review: Martriden - Encounter the Monolith
Encounter the Monolith

Label: Independent
Year released: 2010
Duration: 45:00
Tracks: 6
Genre: Death/Black

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: March 26, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Encounter the Monolith

Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (10 Votes)

I have been following Martriden's career since their 2006 debut EP, and I thought their debut album The Unsettling Dark was a startlingly musical slab of feral aggression. This, their second full-length release, already shows Martriden pushing against the boundaries of their chosen genre and striving to create original, interesting music. Encounter the Monolith is not at all what I expected, but is a fascinating sophomore album nonetheless.

The musicianship and the maturity of the songwriting is really noticeable here, as without leaving their aggression or heaviness behind Martriden have created music that is always surprising and much deeper than it appears at first glance. I would call this progressive, but the playing is never showy, and the band's restraint and tact in the use of their individual instruments is really a pleasure. Nobody showboats or takes over the stage, and the band creates a really unified sound with the melding of their instruments. You get that sense, so rare these days, of a band working together, vibing off one another in the studio and feeding that group energy into the music. Martriden are still a Death/Black band, but not in the usual sense, as rather than just playing downtuned Black blasting they use Death rhythms and riff-patterns with an uptuned BM sound and big, melodic compositional style that recalls bands as diverse as Sear Bliss and Septicflesh. It is really difficult to pin down any other band to compare this to, as really Martriden have combined elements of extreme metal in ways that are new, or at least underused, creating a sound that is familiar on the surface, but unique in detail.

At first spin I thought this was not as good as The Unsettling Dark, as it is more sprawling and less aggressive, but repeated listens opened up the complexity and the satisfying depths of this disc. Martriden are a band to watch, as they are not content to simply tread water and do what is expected of them. This is a band determined to push the envelope, and there could well be greatness in store. This band is already doing great things, but a band this ambitious will not be content with that.

Other related information on the site
Review: Cold and the Silence (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Martriden (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Unsettling Dark (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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