Artist: Martyr Defiled
Album: Young Gods
When you were a child, did you ever go outside on a hot, idyllic summer day—you know, the kind where there was no wind moving the trees, nor clouds blocking the sun—and look for the nearest anthill? You’d scour here and there in your suburban jungle of a neighborhood, looking for a minute society to reign dominion over; and when you found it, you reached into your pocket, gripped the handle of your dad’s old magnifying glass and simply played God?
You mercilessly wiped out hundreds, if not thousands, of lives on a whim. Not for good reason. Not because they deserved it. Not because it was justified, but because you wanted to.
That’s what God does to us. Every hour of every day. Cessation of life for the sake of it; and on their long-awaited and much-anticipated full length release, Young Gods, that is exactly what Martyr Defiled do to the world of heavy music as we know it; they obliterate it, rebuilding it from scratch with bold, unique and diverse brilliance. Combining the sort of frenzied, technically-tinted and riff-driven deathcore the band have spent nearly ten years becoming synonymous with in a head-on collision with heavy-hardcore and thrashy, distinctly metallic influence, Martyr Defiled have taken the recent revival of deathcore and flipped it on its ear, creating a sound that transcends deathcore, but instead is something new and breathtaking altogether—a release that can’t simply be discussed but truly must be experienced to be understood.
Over their impressive tenure as a terrifyingly intense deathcore outfit, Martyr Defiled have taken on a variety of sounds and styles, each one more intriguing and immersive than the last. With Collusion and Ecophagy taking on a more timely perspective of blast-laden, ludicrous-speed aggression and the groundbreaking In/Shadows emphasizing riff-driven, melodic-at-moments styles of thrash-and-hardcore-laced deathcore—not to mention what is (or was) simply an unbeatable display of power on No Hope, No Morality, it’s hard to believe that 2009-2010 Martyr Defiled is even the same outfit. But at the core, the band’s penchant for pure, remorseless punishment remains untainted, and this is as true of Young Gods as it is of any release they’ve issued yet.
That, however, is where the similarities really end with the rest of the quintet’s crushing back-catalogue. Young Gods is, in short, one of the most diverse offerings of heavy music ever penned—and chief songwriter, guitarist, and metal mastermind Ryan Smith is largely to thank. The man behind the madness of Martyr Defiled’s last two momentous releases, Smith’s work and influence to the band’s other members is what make the group such a cohesive and crushing unit—from the riff-driven ruthlessness of “Sins of the Father” and “Kneel,” to the over-the-top brutality of “Sins of the Mother,” “At the Throne of Salem” and “Through Famine, War & Scorn.” Smith’s writing takes the shape of percussionist Richard Duffin’s jaw-dropping energy and technically immaculate playing—taking moments of relatively simple and straightforward kick-and-snare work only to pull a complete 180 at the drop of a hat, laying down ludicrous blast beats and blitzing footwork like that heard on “Bury Your Corpses Deep” and “Sow, and You Shall Reap.” Here, Duffin’s drumming is dynamic, working with bassist Arron Yarrow to create moments of slam-tinted and mammoth heaviness with a low end that swallows the listener whole (“At the Throne of Salem,” I’m looking at you) while still creating fluid and groovy moments, like those which define “Reborn,” “Kneel” and “Carpe Noctem.” Yarrow makes the heavy moments truly heavy, while playing to the band’s ability to transition between shreddy insanity and brute-force breakdown-laden aggression; which is where guitarists Smith and Lee Cook come into play. Cook and Smith (with Smith’s writing shining as brightly as a gilded diamond) combine heavy-hardcore influence, thrashy and metallic riffs with the same punishing and pointed brutality that listeners know and love, and they do it damn well. “Sins of the Father” sees them doing this at their prime, using bone-crunching open chugs and simple patterns sparsely, instead appealing to the power of the almighty, furiously fretted riff—where Smith’s fingers dance as serenely as a ballerina, but with the infernal, passionate heat of a Spanish Salsa—to bring fury and flawless technicality to Martyr Defiled’s robust dynamic. Smith and Cook are so much of what have kept listeners coming back to the band for years—rare, tactical and tactful use of the breakdown, interspersed with perfectly combined riffs and moments of moving melody that make every song engrossing in its own truly unique way.
Upon the earth-shattering and much-anticipated release of “At the Throne of Salem,” the debut single from Martyr Defiled’s Young Gods, much of the feedback echoed the purpose of the track: a brutish showing of pure, brutalizing force—and no element of the stellar aforementioned track exemplified that better than the vocals. Frontman Matthew Jones—the voice of all Hell shouting out in one harmonious, tortured cry—let loose with a range and style that trumped even his best efforts from In/Shadows and No Hope, No Morality both, but it doesn’t stop there. With songs like “Sins of the Mother,” “Bury Your Bodies Deep” and “Sins of the Mother,” the listener sees (or hears, rather) a very different side of Jones that is probably the last thing they were expecting.
Brace yourself for it, and do your best not to lose faith in the release when you read it.
Jones’ most diverse and ear-catching addition to his already-sprawling vocal repertoire is the addition of gruff, barely-sung vocals that sound like a mix between Malevolence and Pantera. With thick, throaty bellows that pull across the listener’s ear like sandpaper on a chainsaw blade, Jones’ somewhat more intelligible and thrashy, heavy-hardcore styled vocal methods are a magnificent match for Martyr Defiled’s new and more riff-focused and precise style of writing. But with that said, 95% of Jones’ vocals are as ruthless and relentless as they ever were—“Sow, and You Shall Reap” is example of this all on its own, while songs like “At the Throne of Salem” and “Through Famine, War & Scorn” prove that point tenfold. Even the penultimate and ultimate tracks on the release—where Jones once more gets more adventurous in his vocal efforts—featuring some of his nastiest and gnarliest roars yet, sure to strike terror into the hearts of the unexpecting and unprepared listener.
So think back to those days you spent frying ants on a sidewalk—burning colonies away with divine will and devilish intent both; now imagine the magnifying class is focused solely on you, and the heat is searing your entire head into a pile of hair, bone and mush, starting with your ears and working its way inward. Martyr Defiled are the hand behind the lens, and they have set an infernal blaze to all within their sight with the completion and release of their latest album, Young Gods—an album which sees them almost at the exact opposite of its namesake: far from young, and more Satan himself than anything Godly.
For Fans Of: Oceano, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Malevolence, No Zodiac, Nexilva, Dying Fetus
By: Connor Welsh