Beyond the Thresholds is the debut album of Marthyrium from Galicia in Spain. In listening to the album it becomes apparent that the thresholds being crossed are those separating this mundane mortal plane from the arcane and alien terrors of another dimension. There is virtually nothing about the music that seems human. It excites visions in the mind of immense, shape-shifting forces, but they are all nightmarish, violent, and steadfastly resistant to reason or appeals to mercy.
The music is also relentlessly intense and dramatic, and when it isn’t inflicting ruination like a cyclonic vortex, an atmosphere of grim and terrible majesty emanates from it, as if capturing the sensation of an abominable leviathan rising up from a crimson void and looming over us with ominous power.
In more prosaic terms, the music of Marthyrium is a harrowing and supremely dissonant hybrid of black and death metal. It moves between essentially two states of audio terror over the course of each track.
Most of the time, the music is a ravaging, almost overpowering storm of sound that surges with frenzied and ferocious energy. The terrifying intensity of the experience isn’t unique to this band, but their execution is remarkable.
The blazing drum attack is consistently startling in its speed, whether inflicting blast-beat strafing runs, thunderous double-kicks, or acrobatic somersaults. The threshing tremolo riffs become a blizzard of hostility, and the dissonant, vibrating arpeggios are twisted and malign — and they also manifest like the peal of trumpets at the vanguard of some hellish charge of a demon cavalry moving faster than a whirlwind. The bass notes pulse like an inhuman heart and bubble as if spewing gouts of lava.
These wild assaults of unbridled instrumental savagery are more than matched by the unhinged violence of the vocals. Monstrous roaring, barbaric howling, horrifying cries, dictatorial proclamations as if uttered by a prince of hell — all these sounds come forth, matching the ravenous and esoteric nature of the instrumental assaults.
And almost everything, every sound, echoes and reverberates, magnifying the sense of otherworldliness that permeates all aspects of the music.
It seems that Marthyrium know many listeners might find it difficult to weather an entire album’s worth of this kind of unnerving volcanic intensity without any breaks at all. And so they do move to a second state of sonic existence here and there, one in which the speed slows to a stalking pace, or the band engage in a bit of mid-paced hammering, with the drums less frenzied (and the bass more noticeable). But the music is still filled with malice and poison.
And it’s in these slower passages that you get that sense of a grim and terrible majesty rising up like a great leviathan. On reflection, it’s probably a mistake to say the music is less intense in these movements — it’s just a different kind of intensity.
The music may not be unique, but it’s delivered with a shattering degree of conviction, and with withering, exhilarating power. If you’re a fan of such bands as Mitochondrion and Adversarial, I suspect you will like this album a lot. I sure do.
Beyond the Thresholds was mixed by Javier Félez at Moontower Studio (Barcelona) and mastered by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio (Sweden).
It was released on CD and digitally on April 15 by the Spanish label BlackSeed Productions. A vinyl edition is also expected.