“Art for the sake of art is an empty phrase”. This is something that is lost on so many bands today. While there are bands out there that are furthering the genre of metal, the evolutionary curve of the genre seems to have plateaued out a bit in recent times. Perhaps this is the reason I swing more towards bands like Markradonn. An experimental death metal band from Florida, Markradonn’s music is one that does not pander to the lowest common denominator. When they released their début EP, ‘Final Dying Breath’ back in 2013, it came out of nowhere and steered me towards some of the more ballsy music out there. The way this band mixes brass music, timpani and ethnic percussion with extreme metal is something that has rarely been attempted in metal before. While the first album introduced this concept, the real challenge to take this idea forward and creating more with it. That is exactly what we get in the band’s second EP, ‘The Serpentine Deception’. Markradonn take something they’ve established and expand upon the ideas to create something that is still rooted in the ideas of the first release, but managing to sound fresh at the same time.
“Experimental Death Metal” is an umbrella term that is used to describe music that is hard to pin down. In case of Markradonn, the music carries veins of Shamanistic tribal music, death metal and a full brass section that makes it all the more hard to classify. At it’s core, however, it is still death metal and this becomes apparent over the course of the EP. The record begins with the bombastic timpani and horns that follow the short sample in ‘Initiation Through Torment’. The thing that is immediately noticeable is the raw and organic feel of the music. It’s refreshing to not hear a polished tone that is usually employed to accommodate the symphonic elements. Here, the symphonic elements work in tandem with the guitar riffs in moving the tracks forward and one does not outshine the other.
The brass elements and the timpani in particular, add a high level of grandiosity to the music while not compromising on the abrasive edge of the music. This is still death metal, after all. This grandiose nature suits the music very well considering the some of the lyrical content discussed here. Take ‘NIN.GISH.ZI.DA: God of the Tree of Life’ for example. This track is written in a way that every riff and melody lends itself to the topic in discussion. Markradonn continue to showcase their love for instrumentals and on this album the title track receives the instrumental treatment. Making use of ethnic percussion and didgeridoo, this track feels like the shamanistic drum beats used in ancient ceremonies.
‘The Veil of Negative Existence Part 1’ showcases the progressive side of Markradonn. Starting out in typical brass death metal fashion, the track progresses into clean string sections followed by some haywire guitar soloing. The track goes on to include more cleaner and atmospheric sections before returning to the death metal format. The EP finishes off with ‘Stillness, Silence of the Primal Mind’ which is a track that is different even by Markradonn’s standards. This is an instrumental track with cleaner guitars and it sounds like something off a 70’s prog rock album. The cimbasso on this track has a smooth jazz quality to it and it offers an insight into a different side of the band.
After listening to this EP relentlessly for a month, I feel I can sympathize with every decision made by the band. During the initial listens, the rough guitar mix took a bit of getting used to. But each repeated listen proves rewarding. ‘The Serpentine Deception’ is a solid second release from Markradonn and it only intensifies my hunger for the band’s début full length.
The band is currently running a GoFundMe campaign here: http://www.gofundme.com/Markradonn2015