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"Review of Unsettling Dark LP"

Is Montana a new breeding ground for extreme metal? If The Unsettling Dark from the rising black/death metal band Martriden is any indication, then it very well could be. This is the band's first full-length release following a self-titled EP in 2006. To sum things up, Martriden takes a cue from death metal standouts such as Opeth, Morbid Angel and Carcass, and elevates the extremity with influences from black metal bands such as Emperor and Behemoth. A similar comparison also can be made to Necrophobic. The Unsettling Dark is on a grand scale, featuring walls of guitars and rhythms, a brutal vocal attack courtesy of Michael Cook and lengthly melodic passages. The legendary Emperor handpicked Martriden to open their final shows in the United States. One listen and it's evident that extreme metal has been waiting for a new band like this for some time. A new heir to a throne perhaps?

Immediately we begin to twist and turn with the blasting rhythm of “The Enigma of Fate” and “The Calling,” climaxing with the heart of the album: “The Ascension Part 1” and “The Ascension Part 2.” "Part 1" is the heir-apparent to any track from Carcass's classic Heartwork album. It features an awesome guitar attack and the song has an evil, almost sarcastic tone. "Part 2" is a monumental instrumental piece, beginning with acoustic guitars and ending in a triumphant score familiar with the black metal elite. This is the soundtrack to bloody, fiery battlefields and legions of armor-clad warriors fighting to the death. The title track churns out some of the release's best grooves and has lyrics telling tales of death and destruction. Trust me, the rest of the album follows suit. “Immaculate Perception” closes out in instrumental fashion with beautiful acoustic guitar work.

Martriden is furious yet beautiful, extreme yet dynamic, and The Unsettling Dark is a phenomenal album. Above all, they have a sense of purpose, unlike the droves of bands we are seeing today making incomprehensible noise. They have set a high bar for themselves with their first full-length album and are already on the same level as many long running black and death metal bands. For fans of extreme metal, this is one not to be missed. -

"Unsettling Dark LP review"

Montana’s Martriden carries on the Scandinavian melodic-death and black-metal traditions on its debut full-length, The Unsettling Dark. It’s the kind of album that suggests that topography is destiny -- the lunar expanses and jutting mountain ranges of the Treasure State aren’t so far removed from Scandinavia’s frigid lowlands and alpine terrain -- but The Unsettling Dark goes far beyond hero worship. Martriden chews up its Viking influences, ingests only the best bits, and spits out a blackened death-metal album to remember.

Bolstered by a huge production job by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage), the bulk of The Unsettling Dark impregnates the keyboard-laced melodic death of Dark Tranquillity with brainier, brawnier riffing. “The Calling” and “Processional for the Hellfire Chariot” surge with dual guitars that chug, pummel, retreat, and then take off into slanty lead filigree. Aside from short detours into blastbeat and thrash-polka territory, Martriden’s bulletproof double-kick drum action stays welded to whatever groove the guitars happen to be peddling. Vocalist Michael Cook splits the difference between the standard-issue death-metal growl and black-metal rasp, resulting in an appealing and intelligible roar.

Martriden’s greatest strength is the impeccable craft of its arrangements. The sculpted riff topiary of “Ascension Part 1” (which features a killer solo from itinerant death-metal-cameo guitarist James Murphy) places it in league with some of Dimmu Borgir’s more opulent constructions; keyboard parts flesh out harmonies and build mood without once diluting the complexity. Perhaps the most powerful moment on the disc is “Prelude,” which effectively refashions a Rachmaninoff piano piece into an unrestrained metallic hellstorm. It’s no wonder that black-metal legends Emperor, themselves masters of arrangement and classical/metal fusion, hand-picked Martriden as openers for a U.S. tour in 2007.

Martriden excels at blasting death metal, but ferocity is just one weapon in its arsenal. Acoustic instruments beautify “Ascension Part 2” and the graceful, Opeth-like finale to “A Season in Hell,” offering merciful rest stops from all the surrounding fury. Could these un-metal parts be signposts for future directions? No matter where Martriden goes, this much we know: These early-twenty-year-olds have already written an album to rival the best Scandinavian-style metal. -

"Self Titled EP Review"

Martriden are an unbelievably talented, upstart band that play an earth-shattering form of symphonic blackened death metal. So if a random sample of metalheads were asked to locate this group’s locale, many would pinpoint a Scandinavian country, some would finger Canada, and a few would direct their attention to one of the death-riddled states in the U.S. Florida? No. New York? No. California? No. Montana? Yes! I bet no one saw that coming. While Montana isn’t exactly known for its crushing metal, Martriden are trying to change that.

Though there are only 300 copies of the Martriden EP – which are going quickly, I might add – the group pulled out all the stops to ensure that the visual and aural characteristics of their debut would be of top-notch quality. Unsurprisingly, there’s no Achilles heel among the bunch. Travis Smith (Seempieces) composed the artwork, Dave Otero (Flatline Audio) recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced the audible portion, and the members of Martriden didn’t slouch when it came time to lay down their respective, instrumental contributions.

Each of the four tracks spills over the five-minute mark, and two of them even reach seven minutes total. “Blank Eye Stare,” after a brief synth lead-in, batters the listener with intense double-bass drumming, layered guitar acrobatics, and saliva-soiled growls. The production is outstanding as the instruments sound thick and meaty, yet the recording as a whole seems spacious. Some will recall Morbid Angel and Opeth in fond recollection, though Martriden are more melodious than the former and employ a modus operandi similar to the latter – only heavier. Be prepared for the damage-inflicting riffs and rhythms of “The Art of Death Infernal,” which are then juxtaposed with the subtle synthesizer lines. There’s a likeness to Amon Amarth to be uncovered in “In Death We Burn,” and “Set a Fire in Our Flesh” utilizes a crawling, melodic tempo before launching into an uber-heavy assault that rams the listener a la blunt force trauma.

All in all, the Martriden EP is staggeringly impressive for a young, unsigned band with what I imagine was a very limited budget. At 25 minutes, this disc single-handedly proves that this foursome have the raw abilities needed to produce a laudable full-length, and despite the absence of true innovation, record labels would be wise to pay Montana a visit. But I’m sure as hell not going there.

8/10 -


Martriden EP s/t
The Unsettling Dark LP

Songs played on the radio or are streaming online
Ascension Part 1 and 2
In Death We Burn
The Art of Death Infernal
The Calling
Processional for the Hellfire Chariot



Martriden is an american blackened death metal band with progressive and symphonic influences. They were fully formed in 2005 in their home state of Montana, USA.

Boasting a sound and sophistication far beyond their years and experience as a band, Martriden are one of the few Black/Death Metal bands from the US that MORE than stand up to their European counterparts in terms of everything listeners have come to expect from the genre.

Drawing influence from Opeth, Behemoth, Emperor, Bloodbath, Enslaved and everything in between, Martriden do not just pulverise and maim but also possess the ability to write incredible songs with the kind of dynamics seen in few bands these days. Epic arrangements, relentless drumming and acid gargling vocals? Check. Symphonic melodies, soaring keyboards and rich, thick guitar parts? Check. Rest assured that this band will be appreciated and loved by anyone who prefer a touch of class to their daily headbanging fodder.
Following successful US tour dates with the mighty EMPEROR, as well as a phenomenally well received self titled EP via SOAR in March 07, the potential that Martriden offer started to be acknowledged and their next offering eagerly awaited by all…March 2008 sees the arrival of their debut full length, ‘The Unsettling Dark’.