Review by Tony Gaskin
Release Date: Digital 31 March 2014; CD 7 April 2014
BOOM! That’s what you get after 40 seconds or so of a soft, gentle piano intro, and that’s just the first surprise of many on Impera, the latest release from Martyr De Mona. That first track, ‘Siege Mentality’, draws you in like every good first track should with layers of blistering guitar tracks and pounding drum work. The band put this track out as a free download as part of the build up to this albums release and it’s proved a huge hit with fans old and new alike, but it’s track two, ‘Influence & Persuasion’ that has proved that MDM have moved on in huge strides.
The first single to come from the album, ‘Influence & Persuasion’, is MDM’s marker, it’s their statement of intent. Huge guitar riffs and powerful vocals on this track are of the highest standard and set the tone for the rest of the album. Production is of the highest order, and should be with the man behind the desk none other than Romesh Dodangoda who has worked with some of the best young British Metal acts out of his Long Wave Studio in Cardiff (including Liberty Lies)
It’s been very interesting to say the least watching this band emerge from the Black Country Metal scene a few years ago, with line-up changes galore and the whole thing dead and buried not that long ago, but the only remaining original member, Louis Hale, picked himself up, dusted himself down and fought back. Now with their strongest line-up to date and a successful single release already in the bag, the band have finally found their groove. The old grunge influenced chaos has gone to be replaced by a modern take on classic heavy metal, but tempered by Louis’s vocals that are as strong and powerful as ever, matured with experience and confident.
This is evident in tracks like ‘Reprisal’ and ‘Sentient’, heavy, melodic songs that show off not only the bands many instrumental talents, but how they’ve developed as song writers. Louis is backed up by some great vocal harmonies from the other band members, another interesting development.
Driving the whole thing forward is the outstanding guitar skills of Ant Rickett, from crushing riffs to intricate picking, his talents are boundless, covering the whole gamut of metal string work, whilst his cohort on bass refuses to be out done. Josh Wooldridge keeps the pace true and even, the bass lines are intricate but clean, gone are the old loose, discordant rhythms of the past, just listen all the way through the album and the bass tone remains sweet.
As with the rest of the guys, Ashley Leatherland is no bit player left to fill in and provide a backing to the rest. No, the drumming on this album is exquisite and a major part in the overall sound and feel of the songs, a sound and feel of a modern, confident quartet, comfortable in what they are doing, it’s heavy stuff, take ‘Nothing Sacred’ and ‘KYO’ for example, but melodic with well structured songs that rise and fall like a raging storm driven sea, whilst there are changes in tempo and slick breakdowns. It’s a complete album with soaring vocal harmonies and extensive guitar layers that give a Prog feel, but kept short and succinct enough to not let you get too comfortable.
This is a huge step for this young band, a lot of time, energy and money has been put into this album and it shows. From the constant on-line presence to the extensive press releases, this is a band that wants success and that my friends, is half the battle; the other half is having a killer weapon in your armoury.
10 out of 10
- Siege Mentality
- Influence & Persuasion
- Nothing Sacred
- Gravity Breaks
- Suffer Unto Me