Released: 2011, Buil2Kill
Martyr Lucifer are technically a new project but one filled with many veterans. Featuring band founder and namesake Martyr Lucifer, some memebers of this band were one-time members of Hortus Animae. For more on that band please feel free to check out my review of FUNERAL NATION MMXII this month as well.
FAREWELL TO GRAVELAND starts well enough with an interesting work of cover art, depicting a woman leaving behind a dark city, (possibly Graveland?) and crossing into the wilderness. This album cover I feel is very likely symbolic representation of the album title as the predominately Black Metal sound of Hortus Animae are left behind (a farewell) for something a bit more organic. I won’t pretend to understand it but I do know many artists are also evolving and growing and Martyr Lucifer (then man) seems to be one of these people as this project may be more where his creative impulses lie at this point in time.
Broken down into it’s components, MARTYR LUCIFER (the band) is really an amazing amalgamation of talent from across the world. The bassist, Vrolok is from the Ukraine and was in Nokturnal Mortem, Grom, the well-know drummer (Ancient) is in the US, Adrian Erlandson, another well-known drummer (At The Gates) is from Sweden and a handful more Italians, (Arke on guitar, Bless on keyboards and Leit on vocals) make this seven-piece band a bit of a monster! The lead vocals are of course handled by Martyr Lucifer himself leading this all-star cast!
All the assembled talent does not go to waste as FAREWELL TO GRAVELAND is a very accomplished dark Metal record with a very high degree of quality song-writing and performance. The sound is predominantly dark and gothic with clean vocals. The songs are mostly mid-paced and in the four-minute range with a very European Metal feel. There is enough guitar to keep it in the ‘Metal’ realm but it’s certainly on the mellower end of the metallic spectrum. I could certainly draw comparisons to Samael, Tiamat and Moonspell when those bands had left Metal behind and wandered into more experimental phases of their careers. The production is clear and Martyr (the man) delivers the vocals in many tones but mostly in a somber tone in the lower end of the register. The band wanders in prog-territory a couple of times especially on the 10 minute long cut, ‘The Horseride’. It features acoustic guitar, piano, inter-spliced with a more driving tempo and a chanted style vocal, (layered over a more traditional black Metal vocal) around the seven-minute mark.
I get the same feeling of excitement and interest listening to Martyr Lucifer that I did when I was discovering a lot of early to mid-90’s Century Media bands, more specifically the same high quality style. Maybe this style isn’t as fresh as it was back in 1993 but it’s still a very worthwhile album. I’d like it a shade heavier overall but there is a lot of depth and texture on this excellent debut album.