On the Way Back

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Band Name Martiria
Album Name On the Way Back
Type Album
Released date 2011
Music StyleSymphonic Heavy
Members owning this album5


1. Cantico 00:44
2. Drought 06:20
3. Apocalypse 07:21
4. Song 04:12
5. Ashes to Ashes 06:06
6. The Sower 07:52
7. Gilgamesh 05:27
8. The Slaughter of the Guilties 06:53
9. You Brought Me Sorrow 04:42
10. Twenty Eight Steps 09:08
11. On the Way Back 04:37
Total playing time 1:03:22

Review @ InfinityZero

10 August 2011

While the album does have a few nice moments, very few of the songs ever really take flight or lift off the ground.

Symphonic metal is something that I don't have too much experience with, but I have heard good and bad sides of the genre, and I decided I needed to get into an entire album rather than just hearing odd songs from bands. The album I am reviewing of the genre is Martiria's fourth symph-metal release, called On the Way Back. Ooooh, sounds moody. Nice cover art, too. Maybe this'll be good.

On the Way Back is basically a meat-and-potatoes heavy metal album consisting of basic riffs and musicality, but features elements that attempt to push it into something more. Symphony-mimicking keyboards are very prevalent in the mix here, as well as longer songs than one would find on a basic metal album (one song reaches the 9-minute mark). Interludes are strewn here and there throughout the songs and music, and the structure and flow of the album shifts occassionally during songs. I think it's easy to say that the band is trying to go for an epic atmosphere with this album, trying to create landscapes of scenery (hinted at by the panoramic album art). The problem is, this approach, while not a complete failure, is not fully successful either. While the album does have plenty of nice moments and patterns, very few of the songs ever really take flight and lift from the ground.

I feel that after the first real song (Drought, which follows a short a cappella song called Cantico), I can predict what the music is going to do throughout the album. The only thing to differentiate songs is the tempo at which they are played. Some are fast and uppity, while some are slow and dragged out. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but here, I find that the music that the band makes on this album just doesn't lift me or give me emotion or strength or anything that a metal album should give. The band's symphonic tone seems very run-of-the-mill and regular. The atmosphere it tries to push doesn't have much of a back bone, as it seems to rely almost totally on the underlying keyboards as an instrument of passionate music. Sure, there are some nice moving moments, such as the interlude in Apocalypse, but for the most part I can't help but feel that the atmosphere is illusionary and forced rather than something that's legitimately moving or lifting. There's little excitement or power in the music, and the plodding guitar riffs (mostly sounding like filler Iron Maiden riffs) drag the album down.

Just to point out though, this album is by no means offensively bad or unbearable. It's just very average and in some places, dull. The vocals (operatic vocals that seem to be a little bit like the vocals of the current singer in Kamelot) don't do anything for me, and while they're good talent-wise, I just can't FEEL anything from them. A lot of time also they seem stuck between an operatic singing voice and a yell. Again, I don't necessarily mind yelling, but when singing turns inadvertently into yelling, that's signs that the vocalist is missing something. It is fairly solid music, but it does nothing to go above and beyond or strike unique qualities into their genre. It's a flat album, and while it does have basic good qualities like some good melodic riffs and nice, flashy instrumentation at times (mostly in the drumming), it's nothing new or unique.

As the album spins through it's hour-long length, the songs seem to blend as my attention wavers from the music. It becomes bothersome to listen to the whole thing fully and in one sitting, which is probably why I had to listen to it in two takes my first time hearing it. I think this album needed a few songs that more strongly contrasted tone (a few headbangers or quick-paced heavy songs would help lift this album), or maybe a shorter run time. Martiria also needs to use more means to create atmospheric songs other than keyboards. Remember, bands like Darkthrone, Kamelot, Tool, recent Burzum, and early Black Sabbath could create great striking atmospheres without relying on plodding interludes and incessant syrupy keyboards. Also, songs with better song structures, songs that actually went on a decisive and evident direction, would benefit the band very well. Many of the songs are overlong considering what they deliver and could've been cut down.

I really tried to enjoy this album, but I was hard pressed. I don't and can't hate this album, as it isn't pathetic or trashy, but it maintains such a level of average-ness that it's hard to give it any more of a 12/20. It's made to listen to just for it's few nice moments that come at least once per song, but other than that there isn't much here.

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Review @ Greg73

02 September 2011

Forget about preconceptions and let lyrics and music melt together in your mind: it's Mediterranean

I admit I've bought this CD because I had liked the previous ones. In particular "Time of Truth" (2008). And I must say I rather disagree from the previous review: actually I think this is the best CD they ever produced. Of course, I totally respect InfinityZero opinion, also his review is well written and very interesting. I mainly think it's a matter of taste. Martiria suits perfectly my idea of high level, conceptual metal rock.

The lyrics are deep and they fit perfectly into the music, there are always several levels of interpretation and, hidden here and there, references and quotes to other songs, poems, books. I've read the lyricist is a poet and writer and this doesn't surprise me at all.

Looking behind, I can see a maturation process going through the whole Martiria discography, like if something was growing slowly but powerfully. A song like "The slaughter of the guilties" is a very complex piece that should be evaluated in his totality, what I mean is that a song is more than "music and riff", a song is a way to tell a story, paint a scene or share an emotion and should make the listener think, dream, laugh or cry. Martiria can do that, but they need attention and, often, you need to listen to their works more than twice before being able to get in touch with what they wanted to communicate. Not an "easy listening", definitely, but this is not a fault: it's their way to intend music, it's the way they want to be.

From a musical point of view, even if some songs may tend to resemble each other a bit too much (and a couple of them are, maybe, a bit too long), I see some sparkling exceptions, in particular “Ashes to Ashes” (that I consider the best song in the whole album) with its powerful chorus and it's desperate message, but also: “You brought me sorrow” and “On the Way Back” (an incredibly doom ballade). Andy Menario has a good (and well known) capabilities to build compact and homogeneous songs, he seems to be able to create and arrange an infinite number of original themes. The only critic I want to move is that, sometimes, he seems to miss a bit of courage: anytime his music begins to explore new fields, to go in unexpected directions (or to leave the “classic metal” pathway), he seems to get scared and goes back to well tested and knows rifles and melodies. I wonder what he could produce the day he decided to set his creativity totally free! Also, his guitar technique is remarkable, even if - obviously - he is not a true "guitar lord", but we must not forget he is a very complete musician more than "simply" a guitarist.

Should we now talk about Rick? Rick is one of those singers that "divide" listeners. Either you love him or you don't like him. There is nothing in the middle. Do I need to say I love his interpretation of Martiria's songs? Fact is that I can feel the passion in between the lines, I can feel he shares the words he sings. And I'm sure that he wouldn't sing them if he didn't.
I totally suggest to buy a copy of this CD, but only if you are ready to dedicate a few hours to listen to it properly, in a silent and lonely place. Forget about preconceptions and let lyrics and music melt together in your mind following the unexpected rhythm of Mediterranean Metal!

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Review @ GandhiEgo

06 October 2011

Though influenced by the genre's legends, Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, Martiria still retain their very own sound!

Coming full-circle in 2003 when frontman Andy Menario found THE voice that would be the trademark of Martiria, American ex-Warlord's singer Rick Anderson, the Italian act has delivered ever since its own blend of Epic Doom/Heavy Metal. On the Way Back is now Martiria’s fourth full-length album released by local label My Own Graveyard.

Very much influenced by the legends of the genre, namely Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, Martiria still retain their very own sound. Sure Anderson’s voice will remind listeners of either Lowe or Lanquist but you’d be a fool to think that the comparison to such talented singers is a drawback. Musically if the allegiance to the Doom Metal gods is clearly established, Martiria offer also aspects that are quite seldom seen in the scene.

They do not hesitate to add these great keys which have been for quite some time one of Italy’s metal scene landmarks. From Jacula and Goblin to Blood Thirsty Demons or Abysmal Grief, keyboards have played an essential part in Italy. Though some may argue it makes the music a bit cheesy, it definitely adds something occult or, better still, religious allowing the listener to immerse himself in the music more and more. At times, there’s also a progressive dimension found in Martiria’s music which in my opinion owes much to Spiniello’s drumming anchoring the music in some “naive” 70s feel.

Almost one hour long, On the Way Back is a great adventure that sometimes goes down-tempo taking its own sweet time to linger in mild depression but also does not forget to give us good ole Heavy Metal riffing to headbang to.

I’m not sure there’s anything to complain about here. Some may say that the aforementioned similarities may be a bit too much but when you have good music to start with, why complain? As previously said, the “mystic” keys and the progressive drumming are enough to differentiate them from their elders. The guitar work is also quite good and Menario’s soli are much inspired. To be honest, if I were to complain, I’d say guys, the bass guitar is a bit buried in the mix and hard to discern, though it feels like redundant thing in Metal anyway.

I certainly wish that people that enjoy their Doom epic and traditional would know more about this band. It has all the good spacey/prog parts you’d enjoy from an Italian band, all the groove and expertise of Swedish gods and the voice of an angel. It's only a shame that Martiria have not achieved more recognition while playing such a talented music. On the Way Back may well change this.

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Review @ OneMetalheadInBuiding

08 October 2011

This is so... so... so...

EPIC! Yeah this is really epic! Not everybody can like this, even I didn't like this when I listened at first, but the second and third times were so happy to me, that I can't explain.

I love their previous album, 'Time of Truth', so I listened to their fourth album as soon as I could. 70% of the songs partly sound on acoustic guitar, so that seemed to me very boring and I hardly listened till the end. If I hadn't listened to the 'Time of Truth'. I would say, that this album sucks, but, now I think that this album is for only chosen ones and little quality metalheads will not understand this music, will never understand everything, what is mentioned. Nobody will penetrate this album till the end, because 'On the Way Back' is like draw-well, from which you can take water when you want and how much you want, and this water will never end.

What can I say about vocals? Rick has really great voice, but at first it seemed simple and weak to me, but time by time I realized, that this band doesn't need very strong vocal, Rick's voice is strong enough and perfectly fits in these cut guitar riffs. Bass can never be heard out of mix, but anyway, Derek's great skills can be felt in these riffs. Sorry, I don't know bass very well, so I can't talk too much about it. I love drums fills, drummer is really young Lars Ulrich.

Cantico is a classic intro for the album. Many bands are using intros like this for their albums, so this is way banal, but anyway, I like it. I find something unusual in these vocals, It makes me feel like I'm going deeper, deeper, deeper...

Drought is more of a protest song about humanity, as I hear by listening, than song about religion. It has cut guitar riffs, as in many other songs, while drummer does his job. Main riff sounds with keyboards. Guitar sounds classically, mainly played on first and second string and solo on last string. This song has some parts, when guitars calm down, it goes on ballad sound and while drum fills it goes on rough riffs. This symbolizes, that not everything will continue as it began, I think.

Apocalypse is one of the best songs in the album. It starts with acoustic guitars, while it goes on electric. Vocals are really epic. Drums, along with guitars strain my feelings and it all calms down again. The best part in this song is solo. It says even more, that what was meant to. Guitar riffs and keyboard parts, which are played while solo... Simply perfection. There is also second solo, which is played along the vocals, then calming down, then little solo again...

I don't understand, why next track is called 'Song'. Yeah it's song, but why it doesn't have actual name? Well, It's not my business, I must only listen and enjoy. In this song are used longed riffs, while in others are cut. Drum rhythm is one to two. Solo is so difficult to play, it's so quick and so beautiful, that can not be described with words...

Ashes to Ashes is the first song I listened in this album (I first wanted to imagine, how this album would sound). So when I listened to it, I checked, is this really Martiria or not? It has radically different sound. This song is played in two tempos. There is the part, when it is slow, and almost suddenly it speeds up. Great chorus. This song has many surprises, including solo, so I will not write everything here, who will listen to it, will understand me.

The Sower starts with folk instruments, I guess, and it touches my soul. It's pity, that they didn't continue whole song with this sound, but anyway song is great. It has quiet, almost acoustic, riffs. Vocals are slow and drummer plays on only hihats. Then smoothly it achieves Metal sound and tempo. It has perfect bridges, which are mainly made by keyboards. Before solo starts, keyboards play one melody several times, and at last piano ends this melody. I love this part very much, because I think, that piano can sound with guitars and give great metal melody. After this starts amazing solo, which is ended with vocals, fading in the end...

Gilgamesh starts with some sound. I don't recognize, which instrument is it. Vocals are epic, with longed guitar riffs on first and second strings. I must confess that, not only this song, whole album has especial sound. As especial as this solo is. Starts with a little rough sound on fourth string, then everything calms down, Rick sings, Umberto hits only hihats. Suddenly situation strains and starts solo. Guitars sound along with keyboards, which makes epic atmosphere.

The Slaughter of the Guilties is my favorite song in this album. It's haunting! Listening to it, I feel like there is trap in front of me, made for them, who is guilty, it calls me, slaughter is prepared for me, because everyone of us is guilty in something! It starts with acoustic guitar and suddenly it gets heavy. I love chorus, when Rick sings: 'Fathers and Mothers! Let's play my game' and then little instrumental part... After this everything calms down and gets heavy again. The solo with two guitars, while one guitar playes solo and second supports it with repeating riffs on fifth string. It's simply awesome!

I don't know how to start talking about song, You Brought Me Sorrow. It's a really sorrowful song, starts with acoustic guitars and then moves to electric sound. Great chorus, which is played along keyboards. Guitar solo, played in minor and many, many more...

Twenty Eight Steps starts with vocals, sung with one melody, then continues with guitars, playing same melody. Vocals are epic. Majestic chorus, it makes me tremble. I love the keyboard parts. There is one melody, played on acoustic guitars and singed on calm tone. Then starts epic part, when Rick sings, while guitars play riffs on first string. It's a pity, that this song has no solo, but it is so great, that even without solo, it kicks ass.

And the last track, On the Way Back, has same name with album. This song is played on only acoustic guitars. In this song I can see Andy's great guitar skills, mainly in the end, on solo. It's so difficult to play solo on acoustic guitars, because it's almost impossible to make hammer-ons and pull-offs on it, I suppose, Andy strums on every fret and on every string. If you had never tried to make hammer-ons on acoustic guitars, you will not understand...

Martiria is the band, which divides listeners to two groups, lovers and haters. Many people only don’t understand Martiria's music, they think that this is uninspired and very simple, but if you like song completely as soon as you hear it at first time, this means that song is shit. To enjoy this album, you must be patient and listen to it several times, so try it if you are ready to give this album some chances and you will not regret.

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