Released: 1997, Independent
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Calling all technical metal freaks! Here's a band I'm sure most of you have never heard of: Martyr! I realize this album came out quite a while ago, but I finally got my hands on it. This CD is very hard to come by, and because Martyr's music is rather outstanding, I think they deserve some attention!
Martyr is a technical death-thrash band from Quebec, Canada who play some very intelligent, complex, and aggressive metal. Their debut album Hopeless Hopes has nine songs, each containing plenty of tempo changes, melodic guitar leads, and dual harmonies. Guitarists Daniel Mongrain and Pier-Luc Lampron present a tight and vicious guitar tandem. They inject loads of variation and subtleties in their riffs, and move from blistering speed attacks to mid-paced standard crunching effectively, giving the album its great dynamics. And both guitarists contribute some damn fine uplifting and melodic leads. Although I must say that in "Prototype", at the 1:16 mark, the guitar harmony is a blatant rip off! I can't quite place my finger on who originally did it, but I know I've heard it before! Bassist Francois Mongrain does well to make himself heard on this album. And rightly so, because the guy can shred! Most of the time he follows behind the guitarists, but oftentimes he thrusts forth some licks that just make your mouth foam! And due to the album's superior production, his bass comes across nice and clear. And I've always thought it was cool when you can hear the bassist's fingers move across the frets, making that slight scraping sound. Drummer Francois Richard is pretty rock solid also, keeping perfect time with the other members. It would be nice to hear someone like Sean Reinhert (ex-Cynic) behind the kit, but Francois injects enough variation in his playing to keep things interesting. Handling vocal duties on the album are both guitarist Daniel and bassist Francois. Upon my first couple listens to this album, I was a little disappointed with the vocals, because they aren't too different from what I've already heard. But the music is just too damn enticing, and after repeated listens, the vocals don't really bother me anymore. Daniel and Francois sound similar to each other, both opting for a lower death-like growl most of the time. Sometimes, however, they vary their voices, either going higher or lower to give more variety, which helps. And cheers to Miguel Sanchez and the band for an astonishing production job! With music this complex, it really helps to hear every instrument clearly, and with good balance.
It is obvious these guys have been influenced by other earlier technical death and thrash bands. The material on this album reminds me mostly of latter day Death, but also Atheist and Pathogenic-era Tourniquet. They seem to love metal, and have put in lots of hard work to produce an album that will stand out amongst others in the ever-increasing metallic realm. Do yourselves a favor and check this out while you can! Being an independent release, it is very hard to find. So far the only place I've seen it listed is Relapse Records. I tried ordering it several times from them, and after a few months, they finally had it back in stock. Visit Martyr's web site for additional information: http://pages.infinit.net/martyr