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Martyrdöd – Elddop

Martyrdöd‘s Elddop consists of 14 fully-formed epics that rarely crack the four-minute mark. Short in length, big in sound and scope, Elddop pushes the crusty Swedish d-beat band beyond the already-high expectations of their fervent fanbase.

Martyrdöd achieve this by maximizing every moment. Instead of stretching out, they rely on the impact of the smaller elements to accrue into something bigger. That means riffs are given a greater depth through dissonance, leads are positioned as emotional connections, and rhythms set a sturdy pace while syncopating as often as possible. Yet Martyrdöd don’t overindulge. There’s a sense their practice sessions were spent slowly winnowing away the superfluous. Elddop burns cleanly because of it, delivering an epic amount of feeling without wasting an epic amount of time.

In an interview last year with The Sludgelord, Martyrdöd described their sound as, “. . . music with a distinct rhythm yes, there is Swedish extreme music, Anti-Cimex is A and Bathory is B.” Elddop suggests their influences may have flipped. The group feel thrashier, even if Elddop largely plays the same hand as their fourth full-length, and Southern Lord debut, Paranoia. For instance, “Mer Skada Än Nytta” could be a riff tape for …And Justice For All rather than Raped Ass. However, Martyrdöd don’t forsake d-beat, nor have they banished it to the background to be little more than a rudiment. They still feed off that energy. So, the engine remains intact, but the body has changed.

The body is tighter, too. Paranoia had a freedom to it that occasionally came off as messy. Elddop bolts everything down in the pocket. The production, which is rather melodeathy, gives Martyrdöd some professional muscle. Naturally, those aren’t words a punk wants to read. Regardless, the band is better off for the tweaks. Besides, Mikael Kjellman still carries the crust torch, roaring in Swedish with his rough throat that breaks and cracks in all of the right ways. Some may say the band are starting to outgrow howls, but Elddop is grounded because of them; a human cry that, no matter the language, you can relate to while the surroundings are matured into streamlined rippers. It’s another one of the little things Martyrdöd have carefully considered that make Elddop pay off in a big way.

— Ian Chainey

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