For a few years now Galway has been fertile ground for the cream of Ireland’s hardcore crop from steady hands like that of Bacchus’ crusty belligerence coming to the fore in last year’s stunning LP to more newer output in the likes of Vagrants and Swine. Them Martyrs have been a pillar of that scene too for many years, with two releases under the old name Les Christpunchers and 2010’s vibrant “French Extremity” album, the melodic hardcore five-piece have returned once again with a 12” EP in “Wretched”, just four new songs but quite possibly the four best songs that Them Martyrs have unleashed on the world.
Gradually over their releases, the band has allowed something of a post metal influence to seep into their sound, one that creates an altogether more dramatic and breath-taking show. On “Wretched” much of that blooms with aplomb as the band unfurl a new, and altogether staggering, effort.
With just four tracks, Them Martyrs clearly know the importance of quality not quantity. This concise EP has absolutely no filler whatsoever and with a beautifully clean production job that gives their expansive riffs all the room in the world to breathe and flourish, there’s little to fault in its execution.
Opener, “Abort” sets the tone straight away. The musicianship is sharp and precise with myriad riffs and towering soundscapes peeled off with the greatest of ease while the vocals sway between throaty screams and hypnotic singing. The emotionally charged passages of each song totally drag you into this EP’s throes. “Sleep Away Days” meanwhile is a track that captures the essence of “Wretched”. Initially proceeding with a deeply melancholic intro that courses into beautifully lush instrumental passages, the song eventually erupts with equal levels of poignancy and fury. To close then is “Black Masking”, rounding off the album in, once again, stunning fashion.
Them Martyrs have never really put a foot wrong and “Wretched” is further proof of that, another step in the evolution of their sound that’s doesn’t sacrifice any of the raw aggression and emotion that also characterises previous efforts.