Eight Ways

Madder Mortem – “Eight Ways”
released June 23, 2009 on Peaceville

So rarely am I brought to the verge of tears by music these days, least of all by any of the flocking female-fronted metal bands blotting the landscape. Agnete Kirkevaag possesses Grace Slick’s timbre with an even wider range, inviting moving moments that vary from sweet to savage. “Formaldehyde” is the strongest and most evocative track, its jazzy lead-in counterbalanced with graduated heaviness, featuring feral screams and smooth croons. Sometimes-gentler and pointedly assertive, “The Little Things” gives way to the progressive layers of “Armour” that deftly flex under a pop sheen–daring yet accessible, pushing all the right buttons.

Now 6 doesn’t really come together, and it feels unfinished both lyrically and musically; this pattern continues as they tip the scales towards the light and return to jazz forms on 7. But thankfully, the next few tracks rally with a vengeance…though 9 comes across as kinda goofy, complete with an unexpected carnivalesque breakdown (they do list Faith No More as an influence, which explains some of these quirks).

Overall, their delivery is similar to that of To-Mera, and fans of Opeth should also be impressed (likely why they played 33 shows together in 2003). They come off the rails here and there (esp about 4 min into “Resolution”), but these sibling-led Norwegians are tenaciously intriguing, with an inventive verve they can truly call their own. A Best of 2009 pick!

Try *1*, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10

01. Formaldehyde
02. The Little Things
03. Armour
04. Resolution
05. A Different Kind Of Hell
06. Riddle Wants To Be
07. Where Dream And Day Collide
08. The Flesh, The Blood And The Man
09. Get That Monster Out Of Here
10. Life, Lust & Liberty
11. All I Know
12. The Eighth Wave

Rating: ★★★★☆

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