Review Of Martyrs Asylum Incredible Debut: “Grudge Against The World”

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Martyrs Asylum is:

Sid Stratton – Lead Vocals/Bass
Crow X – Lead Guitarist/Backing Vocals
Bones – Rhythm Guitar
Judge – Drums

 

Martyrs Asylum is a Hard Rock/Metal outfit out of Orlando, FL that has been around since 2014. I have been listening to this talented group for a couple of years now after having them referred to me by Bobby Keller (guitarist for much loved Meka Nism) when looking for more local music to support. I was finally able to see their live show a couple of months ago at The Haven in Orlando with a wide variety of other Central Florida Metal bands and found myself absolutely enthralled by their incredible music and in-your-damned-face charisma and energy. This band reminds me of Stadium Rock bands from the 70s and 80s; larger than life on stage while remaining completely personable and engaging with whoever surrounds them off stage. Martyrs Asylum is definitely a live band first.

 

Recently, I was talking to Chris (Sid) and was offered their debut CD, Grudge Against the World for review in preparation for their new single. While it has been out for a while, it deserves attention and a spot among the Metal Nexus family of bands. With influences ranging from Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Tool, Alice in Chains, Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold, Martyrs Asylum carves out a sound all their own. Falling nowhere near the fringe extremes of musical genres, their class of Hard Rock could comfortably fit in with any Modern Hard Rock/Metal band and earned them spots alongside bands like Motograter, American Head Charge, Prong, SOTO (featuring Jeff Scott Soto) and an upcoming show opening for Evergrey and Seven Kingdoms on May 6, 2017 at The Haven in Orlando (you already know where I am going to be that Saturday night!). For their sound, Martyrs Asylum is driven from melody, outward in songwriting style. Every rhythm, solo, chorus, verse, bridge, riff and hook has to fit tightly together around the melody or it left to the cutting room floor. Lyrical intent is also reflected astoundingly well via their aural assault; both being brutally honest and leaving little gray area for interpretation of direction. The more I listened to Grudge Against the World, the more I found myself lost in everything going on. Honestly, there is nothing to nit pick. Great, catchy songwriting played impeccably by a group of impressively talented musicians leaves zero to complain about. The production by John Douglas, Eval Levi and Christopher Lewis is spot on as well and fitting a band as good as Martyrs Asylum. Chapter 1: Slave begins with “Leviathan”. Distorted bass is quickly joined by riffy guitar work and unique throaty semi-clean vocals. Impassioned lyrics and music direct the listener into a world of overwhelming frustration and confused fantasy. Putting a point on the subject, a shred-worthy solo screams forward just as frustration borders on rage that continues to the end which leads to the stuttered bass and drum rhythm intro to “Censored”. With a sarcastic undertone throughout, this track seethes with overt anger. Once introspective emotion reaches its breaking point, the song takes on a determined fight anthem vibe that flies in the face of manipulative input. The ultimately strong, positive theme and memorable musicianship will likely be a favorite among those not normally used to heavier music. Closing Chapter 1 is “Rotten Rose”. Even with its rather sad, sarcastic feel, this thing drops like a weapon of mass destruction. A slower tempo is layered just below some of the coolest and most creative hooks on the album. Dense and dark from start to finish, this track keeps the accessibility of “Censored” but amps up musical complexity smoothly and transparently. On a casual listen, this song is an intensely emotional; on a more careful listen, it is jaw-droppingly complex and interesting. It takes real talent to pull this kind of stunt off and Martyrs Asylum does it with ease. On to Chapter 2: Rebel with “Candle for the Sinners”. This rather short, quickly played song is musically simpler than the previous tracks, but successfully drives the lyrical direction to the forefront. Better look in the mirror before you start passing judgment on this tune! “Alone” takes an abrupt turn with acoustic guitar and an ominous tone. Looking inward, we are taken to a cold, dark space where self doubt and lack of basic humanity rule. This track is absolutely gut wrenching, leaving a hollow lump in the pit of one’s soul. Beautiful, fiercely emotional and personal, “Alone” shows the borderline voyeuristic ability of the band to lay everything out there while pulling the listener into the same space willingly or not. Truly brilliant song. Heavier in feel only, “Oleander” continues on this same thread, only turned outward. Aggressive lyrics push the music into the realm of disgust and misery where logical questions are answered with confusion and derision. The void of “Alone” is now filled with the sharp blade of cruel and illogical trains of thought. Just sick. “Demon’s Tongue” begins final Chapter 3: Monster. Returning to heavy, distorted bass, the song explodes into a real head banger. No longer confused or emotionally unbalanced, a sharply angry tone is offered as a solution to formerly conflicting views. While this is as heavy as things have gotten to this point in the album, my favorite song “Lucky 13” goes to the next level. Delicate, airy vocals and Zeppelin-like verses are brought to an overwhelming climax during the chorus. Intelligent, mature themes and wonderfully musical feel convey antagonism and peace at the same time, not sure whether I should raise my hands and pray for forgiveness or attack those that wreck havok on our lives. The dichotomy is dynamic and tangible, leaving a huge space for personal interpretation and perspective. Love it!

Martyrs Asylum, Grudge Against the World is a spectacular album and a stunning debut. Songwriting genius, impressive playing abilities, memorable music and intensely emotional response are but a few of the things that make this release so damned special. Like a fly on the wall of one man’s soul, put to dazzling music. This deserves huge support so that we can see additional chapters in the Martyrs Asylum saga!

Tracklist for Grudge Against the World:

– Chapter 1: Slave

Leviathan

Censored

– Transition Hope

Rotten Rose

– Chapter 2: Rebel

Candle For The Sinners

Alone

– Transition Despair

Oleander

– Chapter 3: Monster

Demon’s Tongue

Lucky 13

Produced by John Douglas

Co-produced by Eyal Levi and Christopher Lewis

Lyrics by Christopher Lewis

Music written by: Alex Rodriguez and Christopher Lewis (1, 6, 7, 8)

Christopher Lewis (2, 3, 5)

John Douglas (4)

Additional writing by John Douglas

Engineered, mixed and mastered by John Douglass

Recorded at Audiohammer Studios

Logo design by Matthew Pierce

Album art by Michael Sprouls and Matthew Pierce

More on Martyrs Asylum can be found on Facebook ReverbNation Twitter iTunes Amazon CDBaby

Odyssey

About Odyssey

I have had a life-long love of music, but from the first time I heard Kiss and Black Sabbath with my landlord's son in Nicholasville, KY in the mid 70's, I have been hooked on Hard Rock and Metal. While my tastes in music have done nothing but expand since then, Metal remains closest to my heart. In addition, I have played bass, still play guitar and have literally 1000's of CDs/MP3s, so my knowledge is long steeped and honest. I don't buy the whole splintered, sub-genres thing and choose to like bands and music based solely on individual merits. Obviously, this is always colored by my mood, what I need at any given point and time and what is generally pleasing to my ear. I also don't like to rip any music or band, instead having an open mind and ear for it all because I have a passion for it all. It is completely subjective and in a constant state of flux. Consider me a music "nerd" not a music "snob". As an extension of this love, I hope to share this passion with everyone here and learn from your passion as well! - Odyssey -
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