Proudly waving Quebec’s thrash metal flag, Martyr was formed in the early 1990s by Trois-Riviers brothers Daniel and Francois Mongrain on guitars and bass, and high school friends Pier-Luc Lampron on guitars and drummer Francois Richard.
The number of venues to play were smaller and the audiences were even smaller, but they’d played off and on for about a year while writing some material. A home demo tap entitled OSTROGOTH was shopped around to record labels in late ’95. They carried on until eventually releasing their debut album on their own, HOPELESS HOPE in 1999, featuring heavy and fast tracks like the lead-off title track, and re-workings of the three-song demo – “Prototype,” “Ostrogoth,” and “Ars Nova.” Although he played on the studio sessions, by the time the album was released Richard had left the group and was replaced by new drummer Patrice Hamelin.
By the time their sophomore release was in the stores in 1999, the band had evolved a bit and WARP ZONE featured producer Pierre Remillard, whose credits included Anvil, Gorguts, Cryptopsy, and Quo Vadis. The result was a slightly toned down collection of speed metal in “Carpe Diem,” “Speechless,” and “Inner Peace.” The band’s following was growing, even if it wasn’t by leaps and bounds. They continued playing around central Canada and even made a few dips into the US, and started sharing the stages with some of the other ‘names’ in uncommercial Canadian metal, like Anvil and fellow Quebecers Voivod, and also appeared on the card of the Milwaukee Metalfest XII.
They were picked up by indie label Skycraper Music in 2001, who decided the best way to market the band was through a live album. Their show in Rouyn, Quebec was taped, resulting in EXTRACTING THE CORE that summer, featuring cuts from their two studio releases. But with the departure of Lampron, the band was put on semi-hiatus while they looked for a new axe-slinger. Martin Carbonneau filled the role in early in 2002, and they went back to the drawing board, writing some material while playing off and on for the next couple of years. Martyr also played at the 2003 New-Jersey March Metal Meltdown, one of the eastern seaboard’s biggest, loudest, and thrashest outdoor music festivals.
They returned in ’06 with a new deal with Galy Records and the new album FEEDING THE ABSCESS, which had been taped and sitting on the shelf for over a year. The music was still heavy, but critics and fans praised it for being more musically intricate than before. Lyrics in songs like “Lost Horizon,” “Perpetual Healing,” and the four-part “Dead Horizon” dealt with a variety of emotions, but mostly anguish, outrage, and a ‘rise up and screw the system’ type of revolt against mainstream society. Also included was their cover of Voivod‘s “Brain Scan.”
While Galy also re-released the first two albums, both with bonus material (including the original recordings of the 3-song demo on the new version of HOPELESS HOPES). Some more one-off concerts ensued over the next couple of years, culminating in their appearance at the 2007 Chicago Powerfest Festival, as well as opening for Cryptopsy, Overkill, and Brutal Truth (among others) on their eastern Canadian legs of their tours.
Taped in front of a frantic crowd in the provincial capital, their 2008 show at The Imperial was filmed and made into a nearly three-hour long DVD, HAVOC IN QUEBEC CITY. It included some behind the scenes footage mixed in with a documentary and the live show, as well as five tracks from a seperate show. The band was starting to make some headway in re-establishing itself among the elite of the thrash metal world, and was among the acts to play at the 2008 Maryland Deathfest.