Review: Martyr AD

by Bushman

Keeping a band together is hard. Keeping a band together in the Midwest is even harder. Touring is a bitch and labels don’t sniff around for new talent very often. Many bands burn and fade within a couple of years. That’s just your average lifespan for the Minneapolis area. The only real names to rise to the mainstream from the twin cities in the last 25 years are Prince, The Replacements and Soul Asylum. Which doesn’t leave much hope for a healthy hardcore scene. Martyr AD almost became of victim of this pattern. Formed in 2000 and subsequently releasing their debut, “The Human Condition in 12 Fractions” in 2001 on Ferret Records, the band toured the country relentlessly. It was on that initial tour that I caught a brutal showing at the Che Café in San Diego. While most people were patiently waiting for Poison the Well to take the small SD stage, the crowd was in the grip of openers Martyr AD. Not really moving to their music, more so enduring the brutally technical hardcore metal meld. Blew me away. But shortly after that very visible tour, the band lost two key members (including their vocalist). Years past and the band floundered looking for the right members to re-launch the assault. Luckily, they had friends in hardcore band Holding On that had recently disbanded, so the remaining members of Martyr AD (bassist Tara Anderson and guitarists Joel Johnson and Charlie Johnson) absorbed Karl Hensen for the percussions and Andy Hart for the throat. The result is the recently released Victory Records debut, “On Earth As It Is In Hell”. Recent touring with Walls of Jericho, Bury Your Dead and 36 Crazyfists should give you a good touch point of the sheer heavy attack of metalcore Martyr AD delivers. The new album throws down a slight nod to old school Bay Area thrash and even a little of that new wave of European melodic metal shows up. But the general musical struggle is a very metallic hardcore that specializes in belt sander squeals and fractured as hell breakdowns. This is one band the Midwest curse did not claim, and from the sound of the new material, it’s only made them stronger.