ALBUM REVIEW: Without a Martyr cast dark debut

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First Posted: 6/3/2014

One of the most volatile young metal bands to emerge in Northeast Pennsylvania in recent years, Scranton’s Without a Martyr combines the technicality of the genre’s mathematical wizards like Death’s Chuck Schuldiner, buckles under the crush of the staccato rhythmic pant of bands like Napalm Death, and teems with the wry, evil character of Carcass. In short, Without a Martyr is as heavy and nasty as they come. On the band’s debut EP, “Pitch Black,” the four-piece showcases a burgeoning songwriting skill that is only enhanced by its soon-to-be legendary live shows – ask around about this EP’s recent release show at Scranton’s Vintage Theater and your unholy interest will surely pique.

Browbeaten by the growling ferocity of Eric Ross’ half death metal bark, half black metal scream, tracks like “Mechanical” are offset by a somewhat melancholy sense of musicality, exemplified by that track’s first 1:25, where a guitar/bass flourish sings a very much Steve Harris/Iron Maiden “Seventh Son”-era progressive line until a decidedly doom-laden, almost Crowbar-sounding riff emerges to carry the song the rest of the way. With the sensation of barreling 90 miles per hour over the most torn and shredded potholed roads, tracks like “Frankenstein” savagely caress from a leveled groove metal jump to abrasive starts and stops, Ross adding to the chaos with wrenching lyrics born of pure pain: “I will not bow to you, or your tyrannical attitude.”

“Out for Blood” reeks of Whitechapel-like visceral reaction, while “Excuses” is a dose of pure psychosis, with vocals warping from clean to guttural; the track is an example of how this band refuses to get locked into traditional death metal trappings of blast-beat purgatory or overblown, monotonous 16th-note displays. Without a Martyr successfully blends the classic elements of British grindcore with the more contemporary nu-metal leanings of Slipknot, eventually following the path of a band like Machine Head that lands somewhere in between. Not keen on subtlety, Without a Martyr definitely goes for the “gasp” element – tracks like “Slit the Throats” are evidence of this, with a primal-screamed intro and diabolical “How ‘ya like me now?” response to the song’s disturbing thematics.

Fueled by an apparent hunger to make a name for themselves among NEPA’s metal brethren, Without a Martyr is a band with distinguishable talent within its ranks and cold blood pumping through its music.

Without a Martyr ‘Pitch Black’ Rating: W W W W W