Martyr (Hol) - Fear Of The Universe
Rusty Cage Records
Classic Heavy/Power Metal
12 songs (50:50)
Release year: 2009
Martyr (Hol), Rusty Cage Records
Reviewed by Goat

Seriously, give yourself an ultra-large pat on the back if you’ve heard of these guys, a specific one of many Metal bands going under the Martyr name. Formed in Holland in 1982, the band split up five years later after two obscure albums, and got back together in 2006, Rusty Cage Records here packaging their new EP Fear with debut album For The Universe, originally released in 1984.

As for whether it’s worth the re-release, well, the two sets of songs packaged here are quite different. The original For The Universe album, although only having five proper songs (a brief intro and outro making up the numbers) is by far the superior, coming boldly across with real style as well as a surprisingly technical edge. Musically, think early Iron Maiden and Helloween with a skilled singer, one Gerard Vergouw, who is as capable of sudden King Diamond-esque wails as he is more typical Heavy Metal singing, the songs at first seeming rather standard for the genre but when you give them a little more time they open up wonderfully, the slow-to-mid-paced The Awakening especially excellent, verging on Prog Metal. Speed Of Samurai and The Eibon bring the riffage, whilst Four Walls is a great song that wouldn’t have been out of place on an classic Helloween album. Undoubtedly a kickass listen, For The Universe is sure to appeal to those who dig the earlier days of Metal more than the current ones (and you people know who you are!) and could have been double the length without grating.

The new songs are a different kettle of fish altogether, having a very deep and thick guitar sound (the production could’ve been much, much better) that sounds quite different to the Classic Metal of the older tracks. In addition, original singer Rob Von Haren, who returned for this line-up, sounds completely different to Gerard. He’s almost a parody of Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate most of the time, managing to fit some light Death grunts in here and there, and as much as I love the ‘rÿche, the songs on the Fear EP simply aren’t good enough to match up to the older material. Notable here is the massive change in tempo; most of the old songs are speedy, but the new songs stick resolutely to a slow-to-mid-tempo grind. Only Eaten Alive and Fear are actually great songs, the former rocking out despite a repetitive ending and the latter having plenty of kickass soloing.

Without a doubt, hunt this down for what could well be a classic Metal album in every way imaginable, and whilst the new songs are hardly bad, let’s just hope that Martyr can channel some of that Classic Metal spirit into their new sound for future releases, because frankly there’s little else going for them otherwise.

Killing Songs :
Speed Of Samurai, The Eibon, Four Walls, The Awakening, Fear, Eaten Alive
Goat quoted 88 & 65 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:34 pm
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