MARTYR - YOU ARE NEXT
(Pure Steel Publishing/Into The Limelight Records)
Review by Stefan
It's good to know that these Holland based Heavy Metal legends still exists. Looking back at the time I was 16 years old, Martyr's first demo”If It's Too Loud, You're Too Old” (1982) appeared in the underground Metal scene, demo collectors we were those days... I was hooked on these guys' way of Metal right on. A second demo saw daylight a year later on, entitled “Metal Torture”, actually the harbinger of Martyr's first official achievement on vinyl... to contribute on Dutch Metal, a split/compilation effort, actually collectors item released in 1984. alongside other cult Metal acts from The Netherlands like Seducer, Revenge, Vortex, Together and Allied Forces, Martyr kicked us in the head with the strong 'Snow and Fire' track!
I consider the participation in Dutch Steel as the ultimate springboard for their future career. One year later on, Martyr rammed their first full album “ For The Universe” into our throats followed by a second one entitled “Darkness At Time's Edge” (1986). Back in the 80s, Martyr's signboard was high class, solid Heavy/Power Metal including a lot of dedication and an endless form of musical passion. What happened with the group after the release of this second album I really don't know. It seemed that they had disappeared from the radar - finally they surfaced again in 2004 with a reissue of their previously released albums. These Dutch Legends were back with a vengeance and played a reunion gig at the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival that took place in 2001, also Martyr delivered another reunion concert at the 2005 edition of almighty Keep It True Festival in Germany. The rebirth of Martyr was a fact which resulted in the recording “Circle Of 8”, a mighty strong reunion album release in 2011.
The line up of Martyr was never really firm, there was frequent change of personnel but the good old servants the band kept afloat, now they have a new album out and it's good to see that four originals standing back in line again, side side like true brothers of Metal. The current line-up looks like: Rick Bouwman and Marcel Heesakkers on guitars, frontman Robert 'Rop' Van Haaren, Wilfried Broekman on drums, JB Rijnsburger teamed up in 2013 to become the new bassist in the band. I am extremely delighted with Martyr's new cut “You Are Next”, get ready for a tough ride across the valleys of old-toned Metal !
What strikes me at once is the unpolished, still dirty and mean sound of the CD... a sound that fits perfectly to the band. Right from the first song 'Into The Darkest Of All Realms', I am immediately blown away as, out of solid iron woven' riffs and pounding drums coming straight towards me like a ten-ton hammer that strikes me in the head. The bass lines are also ruthlessly applied but what the hell is wrong with original singer Rop Van Haren's throat. Let me explain myself – he always had a great voice to deliver but what he does on this new album “You Are Next” goes far beyond my expectations, really. His contemporary voice sounds pure and very powerful, in some ways he reminds me on Carl Albert in days of early Ruffians/Vicious Rumors. Not that high pitched as Mr. Albert did in the past but Martyr's frontman proves all the more that he is very talented, even better than ever before in my opinion. As opening track of a new album, Martyr leaves me behind totally breathless... this is all about outstanding Power Metal, welded together with elements of melodic Heavy and Thrash Metal.
That was just the start of a great full forced Metal experience, watch out for 'Souls Breathe' featuring Marloes from Holland based thrashers Izegrim. Two completely different voices that ultimately belong together as one. Aggression and full power coming into its own like it should be and in a very heavy manner... another highlight to me. I have an uneasy feeling about the song 'Inch By Inch', I guess ll has to do with the groovy (modern tinted) character, I do not get a grip on this composition. But never mind, the band quickly return to the good old tradition of, mid - till late 80s, style of Heavy/Power Metal and treats us to some very nice songs like 'Monster' and 'Mothers Tear'... two outstanding, pure Metal compositions made by one of Hollands' best outfits ever. Eventually, aficionados of US Power Metal will consider a purchase, I'm sure about that. Nick Holleman from Vicious Rumors is one of the guest musicians and lifts up the USPM vibes even more! To finish we get a classic from NWOBHM gods Raven – pound your fist into the air and scream out loud the refrain of 'Don't Need Your Money Honey'. For some of us this bonus track will befall as an unnecessary move, speaking for myself I have to admit that Martyr deliver a hell of a fantastic version of Raven's classic !
Martyr's new effort ”You Are Next” has only a few flaws on board, the majority of the songs are excellent and reached my eardrums as a pleasant surprise. Refreshingly new album by a highly respected band, actually Dutch legends, Martyr still rule with an iron hand ! People with a penchant for US Power Metal in the vein of Vicious Rumors, Taunted, Eidolon, Steel Prophet, Reverent, New Eden and congeners, do not wait any longer and order this excellent album via: http://www.martyronline.nl/
My rating: 89 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish