"Red In Tooth And Claw"
 by Annabel Lee

Going into this, I may have made a dire mistake: I looked at the promo photos first.  I immediately expected to hear something trying to sound like Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, or who knows what else.  All I knew was that I would probably be hearing a female-fronted metal band that was trying to sound exactly like something else.  I am a bit disappointed, as that’s exactly what I found “Red In Tooth And Claw,” to be.

There is no doubt that there is potential here. The vocalist has a lovely voice, but there are far too many moments of harsher vocals that come off as forced and unnecessary, especially with the effects used.  While I understand the sound the band is going for, it just doesn’t work.The first song, “Blood On The Sand,” grabbed my attention immediately but that waned as it went on.  The album is littered with time changes that are better suited for something more progressive.  These things are far better in other bands, i.e. Ihsahn, Circle Takes The Square, and the most obvious: Rush. In the end, even that first song seemed to go on for far too long due to a lot of repetition with melody and overdone vocals.

Lyrically, there are a lot of very generic and somewhat uncreative lines like, “ You sounded like a ghost.”  I am a stickler when lyrical creativity, so in comparison to the bands I put on a pedestal for writing, I was nowhere near impressed.  I can appreciate bands like Immortal, but the sound that Madder Mortem does not fit with such simplicity.

“Fallow Season,” starts off with a riff that doesn’t fit anywhere on the album but by the time the chorus hit, I found myself bopping along.  This may well be the strongest track here.  Like I said though, it doesn’t fit with the general sound anywhere else on the album.  Perhaps this is the definitive route the band could charge forward in to really become something big and unique.

Overall,  I look forward to hearing what Madder Mortem is capable of on future releases, but this one falls short of being anything amazing.