Manifest hail from Trondheim, their bio proclaims them “Thrash Metal From Hell” and having a reputation as one of the most dangerous live bands in Norway. Quite a big claim! This gives the album a lot to live up to.
Opener “Seven Doors Won’t Do” has a slow start. A reaaaaaaaaaaalllllllly sloooooow start. It reminded me of a Marilyn Manson filler track from Smells Like Children at first. All atmospherics and tortured words. Once the track kicks in it is with a doomy riff and big drums. The sound is good and big just not going anywhere. On the 4 minute mark the pace picks up and we are in death /thrash territory. Now this makes sense. There are hints of The Haunted here without the Melodeath widdly bits.
Track two “Stretched and Strung” has more in common with latter day Napalm Death. The track is filled with blasts and spiky grindcore phrasing. Towards the end it goes a little freeform jazz which injects some humour into the track. Something to put the metal purists off their black pudding/vegan muesli bars. “Violently Engaged” is pure chunk. Chunky riffs and a chunk flilled vocal that sounds more Skarhead Victory Records hardcore than metal. “Sancta Venere goes metal again with a riff that is” Beautiful People” in a blender. The track has planet of chug but I cannot get away from the comparison with Mr Warner’s club classic. This is despite the vocal and drums being nothing like the aforementioned track. Halfway through the lyrics give way to a Norwegian poem entitled Haiene by Jens Blorneboe . The music takes a left turn and is all the better for it. Very mathcore but it works.
“The Cadaver on your Mental Doorstep” is next. I played this on the radio a couple of weeks ago just because of the batshit title. There is a style change again here. Vocals take on a more blackened death feel and the music goes as proggy as you would expect with that title. When I played it on the radio it slipped by with little comment from me or the panel in The MattCave. On second listen it has made me pay more attention but I am longing for the blasts that Manifest bestowed upon me earlier……… and back they come with Justified Means. I begin to wonder if there is some kind of bizarre musical democracy within Manifest. Does every musician get a shot at writing a song influenced by their favourite genre? It is beginning to feel like a label compilation rather than a body of work. “Immune” brings more hardcore influence back and some great spiralling guitar lines.
“Sincerely” is a blast of doom death mixed up in a maelstrom of hardcore grindage (try and say that in a Pauly Shore voice). Manifest bring the whole kit and caboodle to a close with the 8 and half minute “Olympia Cathrin”, a killers love song to his art and his love. There is, inevitably a whiff of Nick Cave about this track given its subject matter but Stian Leknes vocals become more and more deranged as his character descends into madness. It builds to a crescendo of white noise, growls and synths which evoked some visions of Dante’ for me. This track worked well as theatre – surprisingly well but I feel it is a one time only shot. When I come back to this album – which I will, it will be the short blasters that I go for not the atmospherics and theatrical trappings.
This album appeals to my aural attention deficit and there is no rut for these Norwegians to get stuck in. I wonder if other listeners will find it liberating as the styles change or whether it will annoy them.
(6.5/10 Matt Mason)