Review – Dead in the Manger: Transcience

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Review – Dead in the Manger: Transcience
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Dead in the Manger: Transience
Depressive Black Metal
20 Buck Spin Records
April 29th, 2014
Release length: 18:19
Website
There isn’t much known about Dead in the Manger other than that they are a four-piece forged out of Olympia, Washington. Some say their sound is a mixture of Depressive Black Metal with blast beats, and others aren’t quite sure what to make of it. 20 Buck Spin Records recently was in touch with the band, and worked out a deal for their future full-length album, as well as a taste of what is to come with their first recorded offering Transience, a six song MLP assault that comes in at just over eighteen minutes. But is it a tantalizing taste of the impending, or is it nothing like folk described it to be?

The recording is set up into different parts, each corresponding to its proper track, but most offering varied experiences. “Part I” introduces a sad landscape of white noise, clean guitar chords and whispers on the wind. It builds to sharper distortions and some drums that bleed into the pounding “Part II.” The depressive bit is lost on most of this song, but the blistering bass kicks make it seem as though we were at the acceptance stage of grief. It isn’t the most engaging track of the release, in fact it seems kind of dull. Thankfully “Part III” picks things up, ushering in some moody riffs and proper blast beats that add a nice burdening touch to the hooks scattered about the performance.

That intensity is carried over into “Part IV.” The main verses lash out with claws extended as they go right for the jugular, all the while kicking you in the gut with the restrained chugging that sometimes acts as a bridge or a transition. The blast beats again sound good against the Black Metal riffs, though not the most awe-inspiring. There’s also the distant raspy vocals that add to the adrenaline soaked murder spree once more, only letting go during the slower passage about half way in. “Part V” sounds a bit cluttered, running an extended analog audio sample with distant ear-splitting guitar notes played behind more the effects that emulate wind. It gives way to “Part VI,” a bass heavy piece that takes on more of a Grindcore performance than Black Metal. The main riffs here are as simple as they are common for the genre, but end up better than some of the slower guitars that hit later on.

For everything Dead in the Manger does well on this release, there’s far more working against it. In the long run, Transience just ends up sounding dull. There’s not enough bite to the distortions, and the rough audio quality takes some of the decent impact they have and makes them rather flat. The drums are what stand out the most, sometimes sounding incredibly out of place like the blistering pace on “Part VI” that tries to keep up where the depressive riffs towards the end just seem to play basic level hooks. It’s as if working with a single bass pedal on Expert Mode of Rock Band on a faster Metallica song while the rest of your team is stringing along at Beginner difficulty.

Dead in the Mangers take the concept of merging Depressive Black Metal and Grindcore into an interesting direction. The problem is that, after just one spin the excitement wears out and the flaws come to the surface. There’s still some material worth checking out here, especially the Ambient and instrumental pieces “Part I” and “Part V,” ultimately making Transience a decent little introduction of what’s to come. This offering will be available in MP3 and MLP formats, and given the audio quality it is definitely best to get the vinyl over the digital, which should help give the release a little extra bite. But for now, Dead in the Manger shows some potential, and unless their upcoming debut album proves otherwise, this is a band that does still need some time to grow.

01. Part I – 3:29
02. Part II – 2:09
03. Part III – 2:55
04. Part IV – 3:30
05. Part V – 2:08
06. Part VI – 4:08
Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10

Dead in the Manger
Dead in the Manger

Digital review copy of this release provided by 20 Buck Spin Records.