Martial Barrage - _Call of the Serapeum_
(Sinister Sounds, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (7.5 out of 10)
Technically a sophomore effort for this Canadian three-piece -- all things considered, their previous CD-R demo was of enough quality and length to be counted against a label debut -- _Call of the Serapeum_ advances toward a more defined, striking self in a clever presentation of militaristic death-blasting and industrial crush. That they dip both hands into the thematic well of history and warfare might not alone provoke interest as a point of reference (pointedly complemented by the interior graphics and the disc's jackbooted triskelion logo), but as Martial Barrage forego gore and fantasy for obtuse tactical verbiage interwoven with a thirst for pagan antiquity and Norse ritual, they skirt the periphery of a re-cast Bolt Thrower or Axis of Advance and excel into their own.

Featuring eight tracks of highly rhythmic chord variations and rigid grooves gnawed out by oxidized guitars, they no doubt draw parallels to other acts (Incantation seems the most prevalent), but exceed beyond any fashion or typecast resurgence. Of course the directness of each song is the central approach, as they seem to have a very clear idea of what they're after and achieve it with as little frills as possible. Even the most naked influence is meliorated by the Barrage's unique military percussion and vocal tones that sound like boiling oil under the life-wrecking stomp of "Skirting Byzantium" and "Of Eagles and Lions Rampant We Are", eventually leading into "Imperative Processional" -- a multi-tracked progression that coalesces into an arrogant march with a remarkable fluidity and strut seldom seen outside of more electronic-based sound.

The lyrics that accompany these forthright battle hymns are considerably more stocked and dressed than the blunt force of their expression, appearing largely dead on paper but rife with symbolism and given life through forceful accentuation and timing. That central focus in songwriting is what stays Martial Barrage on its apical path and banishes the stigma that afflicts similar musicians by displaying a real style behind so much un-winded fury.

Contact: http://www.martialbarrage.cjb.net

(article published 2/12/2005)


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12/2/2005 T DePalma Martial Barrage: New Blood From the North
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4/27/2005 T DePalma 5 Martial Barrage - Hail the Valkelion
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