Hailing from Sweden, Martyrdöd relish in D-beat, crusty noise that has perhaps more in common with punk than the aptly named melodic death metal and Swedish death metal. Now on their seventh album, the Swedes are showing no signs of slowing down and from the outset, Hexhammeren goes scorched earth with its title track and refuses to let go the chokehold from there. Even fifth track ‘Bait and Switch’ with its doomier passage 2/3rds of the way through is no less intense - it pours on the scorn and malevolence, with brief spoken word moments before more aural battering from Mikael Kjellman’s caustic roars.
Along with Kjellman’s vicious barks, he pulls guitar duty along with Tim Rosenqvist and neither of them are slouches when it comes to the riffing; ‘Nästa Syrien’ is a great example of this, with a memorable repeating motif that worms its way into your brain with surprising ease. Bassist Daniel Ekeroth and sticksman Jens Bäckelin are no slouches either, underpinning the maelstrom with driving basslines and thundering drums respectively. This is especially evident on ‘Cashless Society’ where the already-vicious opening accelerates to a neck-snapping pace. Despite the bludgeoning, the band are also evidently quite adept with finesse as well, with plenty of melodic flourishes, such as the wonderfully off-kilter leads on ‘Pharmacepticon’. These carefully crafted elements help to elevate Martyrdöd above their crusty roots and sit alongside influences taken from elsewhere including black and death metal.
The album is twelve tracks - thirteen on bonus versions - but still covers just over 40 minutes, with the average song length an easily digestible three minutes - and the longest is only just over four, ensuring plenty of variety in the tracks The basic problem, however, is that despite the flashes of brilliance, with diverse guitar melodies that are a welcome surprise in a genre that often employs dissonance for dissonance’s sake, the tracks are ultimately formulaic. There’s undeniable consistence and quality here but after repeated spins, there isn’t something that warrants coming back for constant listens to unpick and discover new things - if you’ve heard it once, you’ll hear everything there is to it.
There’s a lot crammed into Hexhammeren’s runtime, with enough twists and turns that the breakneck pace doesn’t feel tiresome or samey, instead pummelling mercilessly throughout, leaving ears battered and, safe to say, it’ll be leaving stages decimated.