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Martyr

Luxembourg Country of Origin: Luxembourg

Martyr
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: January 20th, 2024
Label: Independent
Genre: Thrash
1. The Destroyer
2. No Time
3. Martyr
4. Akrasia
5. Hunger
6. Divided
7. Behind The Mask


Review by Felix on April 2, 2024.

An Artillery-esque riff kicks off Martyr, the third full-length of Luxembourg’s Scarlet Anger. After a hiatus of six years, the quintet from the Grand Duchy returns with seven songs. That’s not an impressive number, but the album clocks in at 35 minutes and therefore everything is fine in terms of quantity. But, as always, the crucial thing is called quality. Their first two albums were good, but the second one did not reach the debut’s level of aggression and velocity. Such signs of effeminacy always make me disgruntled and in my nightmares the early nineties appear, when all the old heroes ran away from thrash as if the genre suddenly had bad breath. But all-clear: Scarlet Anger don't switch back and forth between thrash and less massive styles, but rather pay homage to the classic, pure orientation of their genre. This is always most evident when the gentlemen push straight ahead and fire off jagged riffs. It was precisely such eruptions that once established thrash as the neck-breaking alternative to conventional heavy metal. They once gave thrash that special flavour and we may not forget that traditional metal had already tasted good.

However, Scarlet Anger do not act one-dimensionally. It therefore comes as no surprise that mid-tempo parts play an important role as well, catchy lines every now and then are not forbidden and it is a fact that the musicians are not allergic to one or the other melody. The sinister title track even houses an “ohoho” sing-along section – and it is not an embarrassing one. The guitar work of the song spreads a lot of expressive, slightly menacing vibes and the dynamic mid-part also leaves its mark impressively. In addition, of course, there are the powerful and charismatic vocals of Joe Black. And so the quintet convinces with a coherent overall appearance. Moreover, the songs form a very homogeneous album. With respect to their desired sound, Scarlet Anger have a clear vision and therefore they see no reason for “original” experiments. I appreciate this very much – it speaks for the band’s authenticity and integrity.

With the somewhat feeble 'Divided' the dudes run out of breath temporarily, but fortunately it remains the only downer here. Martyr is a strong work with a clearly defined, sharp and powerful production. Scarlet Anger's output is no revolutionary masterpiece but definitely worth discovering. I cannot say that it shows any signs of innovation. But that’s no problem for an old school thrash maniac like me. I enjoy the highlight 'No Time' with its cleverly interspersed calm sequences and almost any other track, because they are aggressive, unpretentious and compact. So if you are one of those who like albums like Artillery’s “By Inheritance”, Mortal Sin’s “Face Of Despair” or Heathen’s “Breaking The Silence” should doubtlessly lend an ear to Martyr.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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Review by Greg on January 20, 2024.

Like almost every other reviewer I've come across so far, I stumbled upon Scarlet Anger when casting an eye over the metal scene in one of the smallest states in the world, Luxembourg. The guys have been dedicating themselves to thrash, although far from the most extreme variety, since 2007, and are now at their 3rd full-length effort, the here presented Martyr, a whopping eight years after their last sign of life (2016's Freak Show). What can we expect from it?

Well, after a quick look at the sophomore's horror aesthetic and cool song titles not devoid of humour, Martyr looks like a step back in terms of presentation. All the ingredients for a headfirst downfall into alternative/metalcore (think Lost Society, Shrapnel, Ultra-Violence... wait, how come there are so many of them?!) seem to be in place, but thankfully the music is what really counts, and it tells a very different story. The rather Teutonic-esque commanding vocals of Joe Block catch the listener's ear, and coupled with the strategic melodic tendencies, as well as uber-polished production, easily recall Kreator's output in the new millennium. It was this sterile sound that tempted me to suggest the band to save a bit of money in the studio next time, but thinking back on their home country's fame, budgets arguably aren't that great of an issue...

Leaving stereotypes aside, the roughly 35 minutes of Martyr come and go mostly without fanfare. Okay, the album isn't deprived of quality stuff, to be honest. 'The Destroyer' is an excellent opener, for example, offering more or less Scarlet Anger's whole array of weapons – tempo changes, continuous (if hardly elaborate) lead sections, you name it. Closer 'Behind The Mask' is fundamentally similar and another highlight, scoring with a speed-infused character and possibly the best use of those lead harmonies in the interesting central bridge, equipped with a killer solo as well. Now, the first and last songs in an album are always bound to be remembered, but in this case, apart from being the longest ones, they're also the most appealing, by some margin. While there's no immediate, drastic drop in quality (the nicely executed groove/thrash attitude of 'No Time' and title-track is sure to please fans of Pro-Pain or Korzus, to say), it's safe to say the dudes weren't at their most inspired throughout the middle part of the tracklist. I'm struggling to remember anything from the groovy 'Akrasia', although even the fastest ones (still far from blisteringly fast, to clarify) feel rather inoffensive. Aiming for the constant epic refrain soon gets redundant as well, but 'Divided' is partly salvaged by its neat quasi-Testament licks, at the very least.

All in all, my first foray within the Luxembourgish boundaries was no doubt a strange one. Martyr is a competent, yet hardly revolutionary work. However, its short duration and couple of choice cuts might make it worth a spin, especially if you, for some reason, can't help but wonder how they do it in Europe's richest place.

Rating: 6.7 out of 10

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