‘Impera’ – Album Review.
Midlands’s metallers Martyr De Mona stand on the brink, with an album release due 31st March 2014 their first single from the Romesh Dodangoda-produced album ‘Impera’, (his previous credits include Motorhead and Funeral for a Friend tomes) will be Influence and Persuasion.
Having signed with In At The Eye Records in December 2012, their hard work since is evident in this track. Tight and anthemic, there is a drive in the progress this four-piece have made since 2012’s ‘Protect What’s Yours’ from their self titled album. Whereas the latter showed a band striving to be noticed, the more recent incarnation is self assured and the band are confident in their own sound.
Louis, Ant, Josh and Ashley grew up on a diet of classic British rock, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and latterly Tool, feature strongly in their influence list. While their influence in getting MDM’s members involved in music is undeniable, it is modern metal grunge that powers their current sound.
Impera is forty three minutes of pure, unadulterated modern metal. The ease that the album assails the eardrums is only assisted by the flow of the music. Sometimes, I find myself unconsciously rearranging an album to make the flow of the tracks work more easily; you just cannot do that with ‘Impera’ as each track flows rhythmically into the next. For a new listener to the band the ‘in’ to their sound is effortless.
‘Siege Mentality’, the album’s opening track, is the most at odds with the rest of the album. The orchestral start of the track could be an Ibiza chill out intro but the driving guitar and pounding drums are soon back to excellent effect. It sets the tone for the remainder of the experience.
‘Influence and Persuasion’, the first single effectively from the album is a less pounding, more three minute release track. It is a fantastically commercial sounding piece of music; it is the defining point of the new, the confident sound. As soon as the first bars kick in, it’s driving almost visceral sound, announces the confidence that the band have found.
‘Reprisal’ drops the tone slightly as a slower tempo introduction initially throws the senses, but the chest pumping drums reintroduces the familiar sound. Louis’ vocals are really quite distinctive, a mixture of Creed and Stonesour – his tone and the delivery of this vocal washes over you.
Track four is the inquisitive ‘Sentient’, the soft sound is welcome and again is a more commercial sound, one of my favourite tracks on the album; I found myself hypnotised by Ash’s drums on this track. There is a haunting quality to the introduction which develops beautifully into musical bliss.
‘Impera’ is back to the staple, hard guitars and metal vocals – an anthem that is fantastically driven and the album’s most aggressive sounding track.
‘Nothing Sacred’ evokes the image of a pulsing crowd, raging and throbbing against the front barriers of a venue. Although I feel this is possibly the weakest track on the album, this by no means suggests it’s poor, as the standard that MDM have set for their second release is high!
‘Gravity Breaks’ puts me in mind of an Incubus track, reminiscent of their Morning View era with haunting vocals descending into resurgent chorus, The tale behind the song seems to be one of heartbreak and its message is delivered well, and delivered with an emotion that makes it a compelling track.
‘Kyo’ pulls you in; assaulting, raw tones define the track. My personal favourite moment is the bass line produced by Joshua ‘JJ’ Wooldridge, deep and confrontational in its tone, it really defines the tracks attitude.
I found ‘Suffer Unto Me’ to unite ‘Kyo’ and the final track ‘Hollow Shore’ together, as the pleadingly dramatic vocals, Ant Rickett and Louis Hale’s driving guttural guitar work and the pounding drums are a perfect bridge.
The final track arrives all too easily, ‘Hollow Shore’ – the main anthem on the album. Six minutes of well timed, developing metal and the perfect denouement to the experience. It is not often I will finish an album and simply ‘flip’ it back to Track 1, but that is what MDM achieve with this track; it makes you want to digest it again. This album has already pushed its way into my regular music rotation.
The band are clearly travelling in the right direction – with a major UK tour hitting Manchester, Cardiff and London and a promo video created by Video INK!, the future is looking bright for the West Midlands latest export. Having played support for Black Sabbath and Avenged Sevenfold it is MDM’s turn to shine in April when they celebrate the worldwide release of Impera with a headline show at Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall – they might be heading back home but they’re set for great things in 2014.
Review by Matt Turnock