Madder Mortem has been around for over 20 years! This year marks the 20th birthday of their debut album Mercury. The album itself is nowadays hard to lay hands on, time for a celebration and a re-release.
The album is remastered, but basically sounds the same as its original. Special to this release is that the album contains no less then five bonus-tracks. Three songs from the album got an entire rework, two other never before released songs were added.
It is a bit odd to review an album twenty years after its release, so I will be short and sweet about the original and focus more on the new and reworked songs.
The Mercury album is in a few ways different from how we know Madder Mortem the last decade and more. The atmosphere is in a way more serene, doomier and with less big surprises. It is easy to listen to the album and swing from one song to the other, they differ less than nowadays work. The album is like a melodic, darkish fairy-tale. Here and there something lurks in the shadows and sometimes you get surprised by a faster riff, but on the whole it is easy going. It probably helps that BP did not add any male vocals to this album, he started doing that with the album All Flesh is Grass.
Now shining a light on the reworked songs. In one sentence: they have way more identity then the first versions! They sound more alive and the tension in the songs is build up better. And it has to be said, although the garage-like sound of both instruments and vocals on the original is very fitting, Agnete’s voices has grown and gives the songs a stronger body. The addition of BP’s vocals, both the screams and the clean ones, makes the songs much more convincing.
The first hearing of He Who Longed for the Stars was a bit of a shock, being used to the original, but after the second hearing it already got me. The three reworked songs easily slide into each other yet all have their own identity and strength. It was a pleasure to all of a sudden hear a mouth harp in The Grinding Silence!
Then looking at the new songs. It has to be said, Shadows Coming Home has more or less the same intro as Convertion on the original album, yet the song is much pointier and louder, with fast vocals and nice guitarworks. It seems to be a song fitting as well in 1999 as in 2019. It could however be much shorter, for the surprises are gone after a minute or three, the second half seems to mirror the first half.
Vigil is a dreamlike song, with a beautiful introduction, that would also fit very well in their later album Eight Ways, for example. A long, atmospheric guitar part, good use of male vocals to lift up Agnete’s voice and making it stronger, just like they did in the reworked version of The Grinding Silence. All in all the album can be concluded in the very last few seconds of this song: “I love you…”
Good to have these old times relived with you, Madder Mortem!