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Review: Martyr (Hol) - Fear the Universe
Martyr (Hol)
Fear the Universe

Label: Rusty Cage Records
Year released: 2009
Originally released in: 1985
Duration: 50:50
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: February 19, 2009
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Fear the Universe

Rated 3.5/5 (70%) (2 Votes)

Martyr, from the Netherlands, are a traditional Heavy Metal band that was active in the mid-80s. They released a couple of albums and by 1989 were a memory. Apparently the fire of metal burns for a long time in the low countries of Europe as many of the original band members reunited in 2001 for some festival dates and decided they still had some gas in the tank. 20 years after the breakup they have presented us with a "split" album featuring a new 5-song EP, Fear, with a re-release of their 1985 album, For the Universe.

While this is the same band, the two releases are noticeably different so I'll take them separately. For the Universe is a classic slice of 1980s Heavy Metal, full of Maiden and Priest influences. The production is a joy, having the typical 80s muddiness (a good thing!) and echo. The songs are all galloping riffs, pounding bass and mid-range vocals with high-pitched screams strategically placed. The bass is quite prominent in the mix and I picture bassist Toine van der Linden poring over every new Iron Maiden album, learning Steve Harris' licks note-for-note. The guitarists do the double riffs/solos typical of the time and vocalist Rop van Haren, normally a high end-mid range singer, gives the John Cyriis-Agent Steel-scream a try at the end of "Black Sun." This album is excellent.

Fear, the new EP, is an updated version of the band's 80s sound. Gone, though, are the muddy production and the galloping riffs and bass. They've gone with a slower, more sinister sound this time around. The guitars are thick and fuzzy and the bass is no longer as prominent. Van Haren's vocals are much lower this time around. Fear is still very heavy, just in a different way. The opening track, "I Am the Most Evil," the best track on the EP, has a recorded-live-in-the-studio feel. Title track "Fear" sees van Haren going for the Tom G. Warrior "Uhhh!!" instead of the John Cyriis screams. The rest of the performances are good, but not great. I am deducting points from the review for the opening line of "Take Me Home" which is sung almost exactly like the opening of "Sad But True" from Metallica's Black Album.

I really like the idea of pairing a new release with an old one for a couple of reasons: you get to hear the progression of the band and pick up some classic 80s metal that has been out of print. Overall I much prefer the original For the Universe material over the newer Fear, but that may be the nostalgia speaking. I gave For the Universe a 4.5 and Fear a 3.5 for a combined score of 4. This is a worthwhile pickup for For the Universe alone. Here's looking forward to more good old Metal from Martyr.

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