Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Dead In The Manger - Cessation (Album Review)



Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 3/2/2015
Label: 20 Buck Spin

‘Cessation’ LP//DD track listing:

1. Cessation, Pt. 1
2. Cessation, Pt. 2
3. Cessation, Pt. 3
4. Cessation, Pt. 4
5. Cessation, Pt. 5
6. Cessation, Pt. 6

Bio:

This LP comes on limited OX BLOOD / SILVER vinyl and on BLACK. An immediate download of the audio will be delivered when purchased from 20 Buck Spin (if ordering prior to Feb 3rd 2015, your download will be delivered on Feb. 3rd).

On Cessation, Dead in the Manger follows up their Transience debut from 2014 with six new stages in the grief process, resolved in their adherence to dispiriting melodic atmosphere and frenzied black carnage, ever reaching upward yet inevitably pulled down into the mire. Whether grinding forth in a cascade of blinding black metal violence or cloaked in despondent post-rock gloom, Cessation leaves no space for hope, compelling the paradoxical embrace of suffering.

As before, song titles, production credits, individual personalities and origins remain trivial in service of the one true purpose for Dead in the Manger, internal disorder from external domination. The machinery of plutocratic slavery, churning and grinding the spirit of life until little remains but the last gasp of a doomed humanity, a cessation of the primal light in an absurdist nightmare.

Review:

I’m not really someone who takes joy in harshly criticizing or lambasting a band’s work. I believe that people are more willing to listen to what someone has to say if they are willing to bother with making a strong case for why they don’t like an album. I didn’t review Dead in the Manger’s 2014 EP, ‘Transience’, but in conversation with friends and discussing the EP on Twitter I was fairly harsh in my criticism of it. What made the EP so frustrating was that its potential was obvious, and yet a few seemingly minor decisions nullified most of the good the song writing itself accomplished. I’m not so vain that I would believe my twitter whining had anything to do with the approach they took on ‘Cessation’, but they’ve addressed the concerns I had about the EP to such an extent that that my initial listens left only a smile and an “I’ll be damned” on my lips.

‘Cessation’ is a big step forward for Dead in the Manger. They’re dealing with similar musical themes and stylistic elements as before, but the ideas are fully-formed and better-executed than before. My biggest issue with ‘Transience’ was the excessive reliance on American style blast beats, which gave the material a really flat, lifeless feel. That blasting style was a burden that the material couldn’t carry, and it crippled the potential of the otherwise interesting work coming from the individual string tremolo riffs and slower, thicker riffs during the tempo breaks. That it was hard to pinpoint specific influences is a point in Dead in the Manger’s favour, but for someone who is susceptible to irrational anger from certain drumming choices (like myself), it was something I couldn’t get beyond. With ‘Cessation’ those drumming choices are seemingly reversed with a much stronger inclination toward the European blasting style (or if you prefer, the Pete Sandoval style blast beats) and it makes all of the difference in the world.

The other key element beyond the much-improved drum arrangements and the main reason this album is a stratosphere above the ‘Transience’ EP, is its variety. The speedier moments on ‘Cessation’ are certainly more effective than before, but the churning, tar-thick heaviness found on “Cessation, Pt. 3” adds a much-needed extra dimension  to the musical world Dead in the Manger are building. It builds well; as increasingly complex drumming and guitar layering lead to a powerful conclusion without overstaying its welcome.

With each listen I continue to appreciate just how much Dead in the Manger have grown in such a short period of time. While this album is pretty brief for a full-length at twenty-six minutes, it’s more than enough for me to realise that this is a band on a sharp upward trajectory and if the growth from ‘Transience’ to ‘Cessation’ is any indication of how quickly they move, their next album could be an outright classic. As it stands now, ‘Cessation’ is an album worth going out of your way to check out, being strong enough to elevate itself above the dozens of notable albums that come out on a weekly basis.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and an LP copy here.

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