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Martyrdöd - List album review

Scandic crust warriors clamber to the summit

Austerity, Trump, foodbanks, Brexit, foreign wars, tax-dodging corporations, the rise of the far right, international terrorism… Justin fucking Bieber: we live in shit times indeed, so it’s no surprise that for the last half decade a crust revival of sorts has festered away in the underground, gorging on our nihilism and spitting it back at us in a spew of gravelled guitars, d-beats and cheap cider. Thirty years ago the likes of Crass and Discharge were a visceral, anarchic and, importantly, intelligent reaction against Thatcherite Britain and the spectre of nuclear war – but times have changed, and leading the lines of this third wave, Swedish troupe Martyrdöd exemplify this better than almost anyone.

Emerging from Gothenburg (where else?!) in the early 00s and featuring past/present members of Skitsystem and Agrimonia, three LPs of raging crust emerged before 2012’s Southern Lord-released Paranoia brought them wider acclaim. Yet it was its follow-up, 2014’s staggering Elddop – an album masterfully suffused with elements of thrash, folk and post-punk – that saw the band seek for progression outside of crust, a trend that is less obvious, though no less impactful, during List. Unlike Norway’s Okkultokrati who, with Raspberry Dawn, spectacularly pared down their crust elements (and occasionally removed them completely), rampant d-beat crust still forms Martyrdöd’s elemental base, yet List is no less varied.

Like lighting scented candles before stepping into an acid bath, opener Överlevaren, starts pleasingly enough. Its rising harmonic intro, however, soon evaporates and the next two minutes burn your fucking skin off. And it gets better; full of warping, lo-fi dynamic shifts, and yet hung around a galloping lead guitar line that wouldn’t sound out of place charging from a Dio album, the title track is still a largely crust banger, while the flaming solo during Över Pa Ett Stick or that one that bursts through Harmagedon reminds you that these dudes can seriously play too. Elsewhere, however, things are less straightforward. The instrumental Drömtid sounds like it was lifted from Master Of Puppets outtakes, while closer Transmission is built around a thunderous, post-Mastodon alt-metal riff and cements Martyrdöd as the most vital crust band in the world… right now.