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Feeding, Advancing, Enhancing… The Metal - 99%

bayern, May 30th, 2017

A second creative peak for Martyr; not that’s something to lo and behold, or rather listen to. After taking a low profile for over six years, the guys returned with this masterpiece which nearly matched the magnanimity of its predecessor. An unexpected feat having in mind the long gap between the two albums, but the Mongrain brothers can’t possibly produce something non-stellar, can they? The success of the album reviewed here shouldn’t be a surprise, either, as the brothers have expanded their palette beyond the rigid death metal template, and have incorporated more flexible progressive metal elements plus a healthy doze of the good old thrash; and with the inclusion of more optimistic, trippy psychedelic “excursions” one may start having a nostalgic sense of deja-vu with the late-80’s works of Voivod ringing in his/her ears, among other more or less known opuses from the distant past.

There’s so much to hear here that the listener may get oversaturated at some stage with the dizzying complexity and the infernally woven riff-patterns. “Perpetual Healing” leaps and bounds all around with loads of inventive riffage served in a most dishevelled, jarring manner with pacifying interludes and virtuoso bass parts amply provided to enhance the hallucinogenic atmosphere which hits the top with the funky/jazzy lead-driven passage the latter a great reminder of highlights like Cynic’s “Focus”, Alarum’s “Fluid Motion”, and Extol’s “Synergy”. “Lost in Sanity” is a dramatic busy shredder with cumulative rhythms and more linear thrashing additives, an interesting contrasting symbiosis which also picks up some deathy aggression at some stage, but it’s the eccentric spacey technicality in the middle that goes away with all “the laurels” for creativity and audacity. A wild, unpredictable ride which “Feast of Vermin” tries to put into more tangible frames with a portion of great melodic leads initially, but the less ordinary intricate “skirmishes” resume in a jumpy, unnerving fashion disorienting the fan as to what to expect since the delivery is really multi-faced with Voivod-ish dissonances, elaborate spastic knots ala Realm, and atonal illogical riffing in the vein of Mekong Delta. “Havoc” brings back the death metal madness, but in a very sweeping overwhelming manner recalling “Warp Zone” with a cavalcade of riffs that would make even Necrophagist and Theory in Practice listen with care; puzzling mazey thrashing follows suit the surreal atmosphere further enhanced by more bizarrorramas in the vein of the Mekongs again where the time and the tempo shifts occur every few seconds, not to mention the Erich Zann-esque violins at the end.

“Nameless, Faceless, Neverborn” carries on with the death-laced acrobatics which are thrown at the listener in a most perplexing fashion with stunning fretwork exploding from every corner; a lot of progressive, multi-layered drama which has its calmer moments where the gorgeous leads reign supreme trying to win a most difficult “battle” with the dense riff applications. “Silent Science” incorporates a marginally more static, robotic thrashy riffage, but this gimmick works just fine alongside the more elaborate progressive build-ups those distantly recalling the guys’ former idols Death. “Felony” chooses a more minimalistic, mid-paced rhythm to warm up, and later on the approach doesn’t become very speedy save a for a few isolated Atheist-like spirals which don’t have time to develop since it’s the weird Voivod-ish march that takes over in the second half interrupted by more brutal death metal-ish outbursts. “Dead Horizon” is a 4-part etude which begins with a nearly jazzy hallucination the riffs jumping up and down in a mechanical, staccato manner before more orthodox technical death commences intertwined with some irrational, albeit thoroughly mesmerizing thrashing akin to the Vietnam River Band time and again. The last part of the etude reaches nearly classical virtuosity the guitars forming a knot of compelling pyrotechnics not bothering to speed up too much through this intriguing heavy miasma. The Voivod cover of “Brain Scan” is a brilliant way to end this utterly absorbing saga, done faithfully with great attention to detail about preserving the futuristic, dissonant character of the original.

Second time was already the charm for the band so whatever else was released after the godly “Warp Zone” was going to be taken readily and swallowed by the fanbase without any further expectations. However, the guys outdid themselves again here without repeating their winning formula note-by-note. Being absent for whole six years from the scene, there was hardly a handful of metalheads expecting the band to pull themselves together to such an extent… Well, they did and the world couldn’t be a happier place with these fabulous Martyrs around. Sad was the moment when they announced their split-up due to musical differences. I guess some wanted the death metal back in “full metal jacket” while others insisted on following the path of the Voivod, or this very long Vietnam River all the way to its delta. Speculations of all kinds can arouse here, but at least there were some who weren’t completely unhappy with this unexpected turn of events: Daniel Mongrain joined his peers Voivod to replace the sadly departed Piggy. A great honour and a duty that the man took very seriously as evident from his outstanding performance on “Target Earth” which brought the thrash back into the legends’ repertoire with full force.

Things look really good in the Voivod camp as of now. Mongrain will be sticking around, and this should be the case. “Once a martyr, always a martyr”, though, as people use to say… One never knows when his old comrades will decide to exert themselves for some more suffering, and for another vital feeding campaign to solidify the foundations of our favourite metal.

One of the crowning jewels in the tech-death crown - 100%

Writhingchaos, January 13th, 2016

WHOA!! Just when you thought these fellas couldn’t possibly get any better with their last masterpiece Warp Zone. Holy shit these guys have to be robots from Skynet. There’s no freaking way in hell that mere humans are capable of such songs and riffs. I refuse to believe it. Then again I said the same for Meshuggah. The first song ‘Perpetual Healing’ will leave you skinless within minutes after its fret-burning technicality is revealed to you followed by the horror inducing jazzy solo. Even the bass gets a few instances to shine during the ravaging bridge breakdowns in the song…nasty! These guys are super fucking tight as a band which only helps to cement them as one of the masters.

Now many of you might scoff at this fact (being a tech-death album), but the songs are actually memorable. Obviously not in a pop la-la-la way, but after several listens some of the main riffs and the leads too (oh yes!) will slowly burrow themselves into your head. I found myself humming ‘Havoc’, ‘Perpetual Healing’ and ‘Feast Of Vermin’ after a few listens itself, not to mention the bone-crushing groovy breakdown of ‘Silent Science’. Man that one’s sure to stick in your head for days. Take heed people, THIS is how tech-death should sound, not like the boring blasterbation and irritating wankery of today’s scene.

Another face-melting song is ‘Nameless, Faceless, Neverborn’. Man the opening guitar lick itself will lead you to ravage every living and inanimate thing within a radius of 500 metres for sure. Seriously the Mongrain brothers are fucking musical geniuses! It’s also the most technical song on the album which will guarantee you getting lost in the whirling maze of relentless technicality after the first few listens. But give it more time and you will be spellbound at how many blindingly fast, yet coherent twists and turns the song takes.

Even the eight and a half long epic ‘Dead Horizons’ is another face-ripper, using silent ambience and clean guitar effects to create an uneasy and eerie ambience overall. One hell of an epic folks; this is one song that fans of the more experimental side of progressive death metal will definitely dig. Daniel Mongrain is definitely an underrated guitar god with a unique style of his own that I have yet to see in any of the various metal guitar whizzes out there. Think Fredrik Thordendal with the alien jazz-fusion element toned down, but add a far more progressive, spastic and discordant edge (especially in the leadwork) and you get the idea.

Plus as some reviewers have already pointed out, the cover of Voivod’s ‘Brain Scan’ actually beats the original. I know the die-hard fans are probably going to kill me for saying this, but what the hell. The guys in Martyr really beef the song up and how. But it still retains the sinister spacey vibe of the original. Top class stuff guys. This is how it’s done.

Honest to God, it’s a real fucking shame that these guys split up because of tension between the band members because I don’t see any tech-death band in the current scenario rivalling or even coming close (with the exception of Theory In Practice, Lost Soul and Anata at the moment) to the manic combination of blistering technicality, progressiveness and superb songwriting that these Canadian maestros exhibit. There’s enough music crammed up here to fill 10 tech-death albums and yet unlike a lot of progressive and technical metal bands out there, these guys never fall prey to the fatal mistake of stretching the music out to the point of the songs sounding overblown and forced. Bow down to the masters. Yeah you heard me, go on.

Final verdict? Do you even need to ask? Buy or Die. Period.

Technical exstasy and stunning creativity - 92%

kluseba, August 13th, 2011

Here's another original and technically skilled band coming from Québec. Martyr delivers technically solid death metal with many experiments and surprises such as floating progressive parts, jazz sounds and calm interludes. The band follows the tradition of excellent technical death metal bands from the province such as Quo Vadis, Augury and UneXpect. Martyr is also clearly influenced by Voivod and especially the guitar sounds remind heavily of those of Denis d'Amour. This album perfectly shows and proves us that singer and guitar player Daniel Mongrain was the perfect choice to step in and take the place of this legend in Voivod recently. Let's even say that the Voivod cover "Brain Scan" on this release is one of the best cover versions I ever heard. It's close to the spirit of the original but has an own and unique approach.

The band kicks the album off with one of the straighter songs which is the well chosen "Perpetrual Healing (Infinite Pain)" where the introduction sounds like an old progressive Voivod track while the calmer passages could have been written by Metallica in their earlier years. "Lost In Sanity" also reminds rather of thrash or groove metal than of death metal and shows the band's multiple influences. "Silent Science" has completely unusual and original space sounds as well as frequent changes of rhythm and melody without sounding like endless progressive “wankery” passages. When other bands bore us in progressive attempts in songs that hit at least the ten minute mark, Martyr fuse and combine all of their ideas in five minutes or less. The problem is that the album may sound difficult and overloaded to some but I got used to their style after a few tries because these guys are completely unique and original. Let's say that the band sounds not overambitious as the latest works of Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire or Dimmu Borgir but rather like the Canadian bands mentioned above. But the album requests a higher amount of patience as well as concentration and an open-minded approach. This is surely not always easy to digest for the usual death metal fan. But don't be afraid to give this album some time and it will probably grow on you quickly.

Almost every song offers grace and aggression and this fusion has never worked so well together as on this record. The true highlights of the album are of course the four tracks that form the "Dead Horizon" epic. These songs sound as one but include various experiments and add something completely new to the entire extreme metal scene. The band sounds like a heavier version of old Dream Theater in those songs but the Voivod influences still shine through in these four tracks. This may sound as if the band wasn't much original and would copy the mentioned bands but that's only partially true as they sound quite unique and outstanding and the technical quality is so elevated that you just don't care. You don't listen to high quality records like this every day. Usually, I don't care much about death metal and my first impression of the album was that it was overloaded and hectic but it really grew on me and requested and deserved multiple listening sessions and approaches.

In the end, this album is almost close to perfection apart of the fact that it's heavy to digest and the kind of masterpiece that you would listen to on special occasions but not frequently. Concerning the technical, creative and innovating point of view, the band is at a very high level and defends the French Canadian heritage and legacy that bands such as Voivod and UneXpect built up within the last years and decades. The best extreme metal music comes from Quebec and Martyr only underline this status with brilliance, grace and controlled aggression.

Martyr - Feeding The Abscess - 80%

ConorFynes, May 11th, 2011

Canadian progressive death metal act Martyr is one of those bands that leave their influences out on a clothesline, all the while hinting at an original sound of their own. Already finding a great album with their second record 'Warp Zone', the band continues their aggressive style of technical metal with 'Feeding The Abscess', an incredibly heavy prog metal album that's nearly certain to spark the interest of quite a few extreme metal fans. Being hailed as a masterpiece by the band's fans, Martyr certainly has some incredible things going on for themselves here, getting the technical aspect of metal mastered to a science.

Something Martyr is incredibly good at is their ability to make classically-inspired technical passages sound heavy as hell. The guitars here are certainly the most noticeable strength here, constantly impressing me, even during the less vicious parts. To make things even better, there is an audible bass sound here that carries some tech weight of its own, and drums where are kept complex and constantly changing. Instrumentally, the band is one to be feared and keeps their sound constantly heavy yet always interesting. In fact, if the album had been made a solely instrumental record, I would have no problem calling it one of the finest instrumental metal albums I have ever heard. What I am getting at is that it should come as no surprise that the weakest element in Martyr are the vocals. Alternating between generic low growls and a form of shouting that sounds like Death vocalist Chuck Schuldiner yelling at his kids, Martyr could have easily done without any vocal delivery and been the better without it. Although it is the all-too Death-inspired shouting vocals that turn me off the most, even the conventional growls lack much substance or dynamic to them. While the Mongrain brothers blow me away with their instrumental prowess, it may have been a good idea to leave the vocals to someone better suited to it.

Although the album is weakened by vocals and a somewhat lacking sense of flow, there's no denying that I am awe-struck by Martyr's incredible grasp of technical metal, and their keen Voivod cover at the end does not hurt things at all! 'Feeding The Abscess' is a musician's dream metal album, and if one can look past the less glorious aspects of the band, there's sure to be alot of enjoyment found here.

Briliant technical death metal album! - 89%

MorbidAtheist666, September 13th, 2008

The masters of technical death metal have constructed an amazing album. This is one of the most technical albums out there. It can also be described as progressive as well. There’s also some jazz thrown in there as well. The time signatures on this album are just crazy, especially on the first 3 tracks. Martyr constructs songs extremely well. They are definitely one of the best technical death metal bands out there. They are really on top on Feeding the Abscess. This is one fucking crazy album! I love how fast the songs are on this incredible album. Everything on this album is great, even the bass. The bass is quite audible on here and it goes well with this technicality on this album. You can even understand the vocals at times.

Lost in Sanity is just mind-blowing. It is of epic proportions. Everything sounds great on this track, especially the guitars and vocals. I really dig the vocals of Daniel and Francois Mongrain. This song starts off with this weird guitar riff. It has a pretty fast tempo and it completely destroys. There are some really great changes. There is some really complex guitar work going on in this track. The guitar flanging effect is used quite nicely on this song. That orchestral section around the 2:29 mark is really great. I love that part of the song. It enhances the song and it really sticks out. After that is an awesome sounding guitar solo. It ends with that same weird guitar riff in the beginning.

Havoc is another mind-blowing song. The chord progressions on this song are good. Havoc is a very aggressive sounding song. No wonder why it is called Havoc, it was appropriately titled. At the end, there’s some eerie sounding violin solo courtesy of Antoine Bareil. Why is it there? I don’t know, but it goes really well. That’s very original, not that many bands in the death metal realm use that. The violin also appears on Dead Horizon - Part IV – Shellshocked.

Nameless, Faceless, Neverborn is ultra fast! It is also one of the most technical songs on this album. It features some of the most technical guitar riffs you will ever listen to. Another ultra fast song is Silent Silence. There’s some really fast drumming going on in that track. The drumming simply crushes on that track. The bass sounds really excellent on this track as well. The guitar solo is just simply amazing. Silent Silence is one of the best songs on here. Felony is great too and it features some really technical guitar work.

This is an outstanding album and everyone who is into technical death metal should have this album. I cannot believe how technical and fast this album is. It is really amazing. There’s a ton of variation to be found on Feeding the Abscess. The album is definitely a step up from Warp Zone. I’m not saying Warp Zone is a bad album; it just happens that Feeding the Abscess is slightly better. At first I though Warp Zone was the better album, but I listened to Feeding the Abscess more and came to the conclusion that it’s better.

... - 70%

hexen, December 15th, 2007

Martyrs' third album continues their reign of Technical/Progressive style. A trend that any death metal fan should become familiar with is how bands, at their incipient stage, can explore their musical realms for the sake of acknowledgment only, and this is how Martyr have exceed the general expectations of a technical jazz bands in terms of creativity and existentialist thought.

However the part of this trend which is most obnoxious, is how the band then further rummage into their own twisted spiral, extending techniques and assuming that the escalated artlessness equals to ingenuity, Martyr are no exception to this and this album exemplifies how this trend can occur over such a short lifespan.

The first thing you notice about this music is the convoluted musicianship that the members possess. There is a comprehension of the direction apprehended here, but little focus on how to relate that to the nihilistic purpose which was integrated into their previous albums. Before, Martyrs' music was limitless despair, almost fatalist, now however, Martyr appear almost idealist.

Songs are structured progressively, where riffs can range of technically integrated palm muted modus operandi to catchy rhythmic segments. Guitar is controlled and highly diverse, but rarely interesting enough in musical form; this is pushing the boundaries of what music can still be considered intelligible, and this is the case with several bands.

Soloing skills are top notch, string skipping portions with dynamics and tremolo skills, with the aid of the furious drumming of Patrice Hamelin. Bassist Francois Mongrain is audible in the frenzy, with sections of syncopations being the heart of al this at were the musicians climax, were the integrity of the music appears most, but this is rare.

Songs don't get tedious unless you can expect the inevitable from this band, endless tales of skill and no real texture to correlate to actual death metal. The production here doesn't aid the efforts, it only diminishes whatever potential this album might have to be truly artistic and a brilliant album. Dos this music narrate anything near associable now? Possibly so.

Despite the abstract contradictions, Martyr are still nihilists at heart and believe in a free spirit, these aren't musicians in the entertainment field, but more or less exploring wastelands left long by modern culture. Lyrics dictate the intent of this band, but don't promulgate any reason to alter the perception of our worlds inevitable failure and death

Still Awesome - 80%

invaded, July 4th, 2007

If this album were done by any other other band i would have given it a grade in the high 90s for sure. However, with bands like Martyr, you have to judge on a different scale.

If you're into technical death and thrash, this record will rip your face off. if you're into jazz fusion elements as well, this record will make you explore musical landscapes you may not understand. However, this is not the Martyr I learned to love.

With Hopeless Hopes as well as with Warpzone, Daniel Mongrain and the boys managed to keep things super tech, however with flashes of catchiness and relative groove, with this record, they just seemed to really "go for it" if you will.

This being said, this still destroys most of what you will hear this year. The guitar playing is absolutely off the wall, and Patrice Hamelin delivers an extremely solid rythmic foundation on the drumkit, however I would say that the area in which Martyr have improved the most is in the vocal department. Mongrain has more power and his voice is that much clearer on this recording than on past endeavours.

The songwriting as usual is top notch with tracks such as "Perpetual Healing" and "Feast of Vermin" delivering polirythms and counterpuntal tension galore which makes your head spin...in a good way.

They went all out and it shows, but I hope they go back to a sound more akin to their previous material next time. For now, it,s worth the five year wait.

Technically the best - 90%

Armchair_Philosophy, May 7th, 2007

Martyr’s Feeding the Abscess is a stunningly whirlwind of masterful technical metal. The band is often categorized as death but there are as many thrash elements present, most notably Dan Mongrain’s Araya-esque shouted vocals. But that is beside the point. What this band delivers regardless of what sub-genre you want to put them in is some of the most complex music you can find anywhere. The notable characteristic though is that unlike other virtuosic bands such as Necrophagist and Cryptopsy, Martyr manages to maintain listenability, clarity, and catchiness throughout a whole record. They seem to have understood that is rather futile to play parts that create an undecipherable cacophony of tremolo picking and blasting, and have instead adopted a more precise and enunciated style.

This clarity may also be due to the superb production. Everything is properly in place here; the drums sound natural enough without loosing power, the bass fills in the low end as it should but retains some lead presence for the more impressive lines, and the guitars are clearly separated so you can hear what each musician is doing. The vocals, while being in my opinion secondary in importance to Martyr’s instrumental compositions, have a certain edge and aggressiveness which keeps the band away from wankery by still being aggressive and pissed off.

Every track on Feeding the Abscess is interesting and requires multiple listens to fully grasp. The only thing I can really dock Martyr for is a lack of epic-ness. Although grandiose keyboard laden story-songs would not suit this band at all, I would like them to grab me by the heart at least once per album instead of solely by the brain.

Jaw-Dropping Technical Death Metal - 95%

DeviousDarren, February 16th, 2007

Canada's Martyr has created one of the most jaw-dropping complex progressive extreme metal albums ever! That is a bold statement, but once you hear "Feeding the Abscess" you will find it extremely difficult to mount an argument. Imagine a synthetic blend of Death Metal's greatest progressive bands: Death, Atheist, and Cynic with a Meshuggah cybernetic sound.

"Feeding the Abscess" defines the term "progressive". The music is constantly changing, from fast speed picking to blurring fast double picks to string pounding abuses to melodic intros to jazzy, free-form Fredrik Thordendal-style solos to...well, you get the picture. The group twists and turns through all these forms, but always maintains structure. There seems to be a core rhythm running through out each song, and during no part of the album do any of the changes sound forced.

Most of the album is a bull rush of momentum with incredulous time signatures. The blistering momentum never lets up, but each member makes millisecond pauses to create a flow in their rhythms. These rapid pauses are of pure grace, each guitarist's fingers moving with the speed and agility of a falcon diving on a whim to capture prey. During these complex time changes, the band allows each member to highlight his talent, whether it is the bassist doing a miniature solo or the drummer doing a furious fill, the listener gets a chance to hear each instrument clearly.

Sometimes technical bands come across as being too technical, trading in good song writing for technical prowess. Not Martyr. Most of their rhythms will stay playing in your mind long after you turn off their disc. One facet of their playing that makes it so appealing is how they layer these catchy rhythms. Take for example the verse rhythm on "Nameless, Faceless, Neverborn". This riff sounds similar to the main riff on Carcass' "Heartwork". The smaller string notes the lead guitarist hits are emulated by the rhythm guitarist, only played with heavier strings.

Two other aspects of the album are worth mentioning. One is the bizarre violin sections. Antoine Bareil belts out short violin solos on the tracks "Havoc" and "Part IV-Shellshocked". These violin sections are not classically played violin or melodramatic like My Dying Bride; instead, Bareil's bow burns up the strings, much in the way that The Great Kat plays, but nowhere near as ear piercing. The other aspect that readers have to know about is the awesome cover they do of their fellow Canadian's, Voivod's "Brainscan" in honour of the recently departed, Dennis "Piggy" D'Amour. Great sounding cover played in Martyr's style but never loosing the identity of the original. Jean-Yves "Blacky" Theriault of Voivod fame picks up the bass for a moment on this track.

Galy Records is a label not as recognized as labels such as Century Media and Relapse Records. That does not mean the calibre of their bands is any less than those labels, though. Since I first heard Augury two years ago, I make sure to check out any band I see bearing the Galy Records logo. So far, I have not heard a bad album. Most of their artists play extreme progressive music. Martyr appears to be the most technical band on the label's roster. If you are not familiar with the label, pick up a disc by one of their bands if you get a chance. Martyr's "Feeding the Abscess" is the ideal place to start.

originally published on www.metal-mayhem.co.uk

Like Nothing I've Heard - 90%

death_reveals_all, November 6th, 2006

Martyr have returned with another brilliant technical death metal album. It is difficult to explain how this music sounds because there is so much variation in the music, for example, in "Lost In Sanity", there's death riffs, jazz riffs, even a fast orchestra-type melody for like 5 seconds in the middle of the song that comes out of nowhere. The only other band that comes to mind that even remotely sounds like this would be Gorguts, and even then only in the song structure; the vocals, drums obviously being much different.

The guitars on this album are amazing, they play some insanely technical and sometimes very simple riffs that meld perfectly together. A perfect example would be "Nameless, Faceless, Neverborn", which starts out with some extremely technical riffs, fingers flying all over the fret board, and then slows it down seemingly out of nowhere into this groovy riff, fucking brilliant. The drums are also great, and on this album much faster then on their previous releases. The bass is clear and as is typical Martyr style, play some very technical stuff.

The only downfall of this album would be the lyrics. I've always enjoyed Martyr's lyrics but some of them on this album seem a little juvenile. For example on Feast of Vermin, "Now smile and shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up!" Kinda ridiculous.

I suggest picking it up, though which is typical with this kind of metal, it takes a while to get used to.