Martyrium - Awakening The Ancient

Martyrium may come across as a surprise for most listeners. While they are listed as melodic black metal, upon the first moments of the track "In The Light Of The Morning Star" off their latest album 'Awakening the Ancient' one would think they were hearing a grindcore album. The vocals are just gutteral and brutal, not all the typical shrieks expected of black metal. And this is probably why the band is so intriguing and enigmatic: they don't really do anything in the ordinary vein when it comes to genres. There is classical, melodic black metal, death metal, and grindcore involved here and it is all woven into each track. Some moments are more clear than others, such as the masterful epic "Awakening the Ancient" which features the most keyboard that one will hear on this album as a whole with quiet, dramatic passages to really set up the mood while not wandering into cheesy or overused moments. It is truly a monumental track and the best place to hear all the best bits of what makes Martyium so good. "Temple Of Unknown Knowledge" sounds more like symphonic black metal along the line of Cradle Of Filth with the backing female vocals; the only thing that makes it different is the death metal mixed with the operatic male clean vocals.

"Anpu Xent Neter Het" tends to use more solos than the other tracks (and they sound melodically thrashy), but it also uses layered vocals to make things seem more black metal. Sometimes the layering will feel more Deicide-ish, but thankfully they two tend to blend more than contrast. "Before The Throne Of Nadir" is an excellently distorted black metal track, leaning between depressive and symphonic black metal and really sets a backdrop of bleakness to close the album. What listeners are left with is a feeling of despair and crushed hope but they can't help but like the album because it is so creative... especially on the vocal front.

Considering these guys are from Malta, a relatively unknown region in the world, BRUTALISM is very lucky to have the chance to hear these guys and listen to them. They step outside the box of traditional/expected melodic black metal and amaze listeners with their own take while still retaining the roots of their earlier albums. Their newest album is just as crushing as it is majestic and hopefully is a sign that future experiments will be conducted by this group with just as much creativity to show how music continues to evolve for Martyrium.


  1. In The Light Of The Morning Star
  2. Temple Of The Unknown Knowledge
  3. Kristus Lag In Totesbagen
  4. Incantation Of The Gate
  5. Into the Labyrinths of the Absu
  6. Awakening The Ancient
  7. Anpu Xent Neter Het
  8. Purity Through Enlightenment
  9. Manifestum Luna Plenae
  10. Before the Throne of Nadir

Witchcraft Records
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Jan 8, 2011

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