Eight Ways has elements of jazz, progressive metal, gothic metal and traditional metal. The songs are diverse, with something new lurking around every musical corner. Madder Mortem is equally adept at playing straightforward metal riffs and hooks along with unusual, progressive and jazzy sections.
The band's musicianship is excellent, transitioning seamlessly between numerous styles, but vocalist Agnete M. Kirkevaag is the star of the show. She doesn't have a typical metal singing style, but her voice is powerful and distinctive. She can sing very sweetly one moment, then turn into an angry '90s alt rock chick full of angst and bitterness. She's a charismatic vocalist with a wide range of pitches and intensities that really holds your attention.
"Resolution" really showcases Madder Mortem's chops. Accessible melodies and mellow singing intensify to hard edged guitars and intense vocals before easing up towards the end. "Where Dream And Day Collide" is jazzy and mostly acoustic, has a brief flurry of guitar in the middle, then amps up the intensity and goes out with a bang.
Eight Ways is a CD with a lot of depth and subtle elements you'll pick up after a few listens. Madder Mortem delivers a very compelling and interesting effort.
(released June 16, 2009 on Peaceville Records)