Martyr - "Circle of 8" (CD)
"Circle of 8" track listing:
3. Art Of Deception
4. Circle Of 8
5. All Warriors Blood
6. The Uninvited
7. Insensible Scream
8. Scene Of Hell
10. Justified Killing
12. Speed Of Samurai (Re-Recorded)
Reviewed by OverkillExposure on November 11, 2011
Ah, resurrection. The fabled comeback. Haven’t you heard? Everyone’s doing it – artists big and small, high and low, from Fear Factory to Living Sacrifice in the New World, from Accept to Night In Gales across the pond. While you’re at it, toss in Holland’s Martyr. Promising also-rans in the ‘80s, their premature dissolution left behind little more than two studio albums, a few nods from the contemporary metal press, a cult fan base, and memories. 24 years later – after a live reunion, a handful of festival appearances, and an EP of fresh material – Martyr is joining the ranks of those circling around for the old college try, as their brand new full-length “Circle Of 8” makes abundantly clear.
So have they made it count? Essentially, yes, though that’s no guarantee they’ll be anyone’s darlings on the year’s-end lists. What we have here is a solid showcase of all the ‘80s strains that made groups like Metal Church such crossover heroes in both the thrash and traditional camps – updated with extra injections of ‘90s influences and modern production, for a beefed-up sonic experience. That in itself is admirable. For every classic Priest-type ripper plucked from the “Painkiller” era (“Afterlife,” “Art Of Deception,” “Insensible Scream”), there’s a track of undulating groove (“Circle Of 8”), vicious chug (“Fake”), or thundering doom (“Locked”), with smoky stoner rock riffs appearing throughout. The band manages to mold this all into a uniform package that, far from sounding desperate to attract a broad audience, reflects a seasoned maturity and a natural absorption of influences and ideas over the intervening years. Longtime Annihilator fans will appreciate the new (and, as I suspect for many, the first) incarnation of Martyr, as it mirrors Jeff Waters’ enthusiastic incorporation of all things metal and rock into his music, subgenre labels be damned.
However, unlike any Annihilator disc, “Circle Of 8” may have a tough time attracting a significant audience outside its preexisting one – or besides those already inclined to seek this specific type of music – because there is a comparative lack of hooks here. The musicianship is in top form. The production is commendable, balancing raw rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics with the precision of modern power metal. The songs are heavy. But few, if any, will remain in your head for very long. As far as “classic” metal goes, there are no classics to be found. “Circle Of 8” is certainly worth a listen or two by almost anyone, but in the end, it’s preaching to the converted.
Highs: Inspired mixing of latter-day elements with the '80s roots, rather than the tired "We're bringin' back the old school" posturing.
Lows: No hooks big enough to attract anyone not already a diehard traditional metal fan.
Bottom line: A worthy attempt by a long-absent band to update its classic sound, it nevertheless rings soulless. Only Metal Church fanatics need apply.
Get more info including news, reviews, interviews, links, etc. on our Martyr band page.