Friday, 7 June 2019

REVIEW: God Root & Manikineter, "“The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost”

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Split 
Date Released: 01/06/2019
Label: Independent

"The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost" CS//DD track listing

1). God Root, Decay is a Womb
2). God Root, Where Life Springs Forth
3). Manikineter, We Don’t Remember Asking
4). Manikineter, Shoot the Chalice (Re-Mixed)

The Review:

Writing about metal, especially the “extreme” spectrum of metal, you don’t necessarily get to reflect on melodic beauty. I’d probably cringe if I had to look at a diagram of how often I remark on the brutality, the malevolence, the dissonance and filthy tones of the releases I get sucked into.  But the most effective moments of tension, for me at least, is hearing a group of capable musicians show off their melodic prowess and then break it into a million writhing pieces.  Maybe that’s what’s drawn me to God Root since their self-titled debut; maybe that’s what has me more excited for what they WILL be doing with each new release. It’s definitely what has me hooked on their latest, long awaited follow-up to “Salt and Rot”.  With fellow Philly cross-genre mastermind Manikineter, God Root explore the beauty in physical corruption on “The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” by fusing harmonic vocals and harsh noise, soaring leads and thrashing low end, offering a glimpse of a band that’s thoroughly progressive but undeniably catchy.

The main course here is “Decay is a Womb”, a nine-minute opus that opens with thoroughly monastic, multi-part harmonies, crackling minor key guitar chords, and pulsing, tribal drumming.  The extreme low end vocals, which directly nod to Tuvan throat singing, are beautifully countered by the vocal triad of Joe Hues (guitar), Ross Bradley (bass) and Fred Grabosky, before the shrill noise acrobatics of Jordan Stiff and dual guitar lines of Hues and Kieth Riecke kick in.  There’s some subtle industrial crunch running through the sludge but the rhythm is never stiff.  It manages to pulsate with the biological metaphors at play.  With an intensity that vacillates between agony and jubilation, the nameless narrator intones: “I yield to the heat of decay / Rebirth between the black astral plane / In loam, a time lapse churns my body back to the earth / Swallow me. Rip me away”. It never get back to the delicacy of the opening, but the melody coursing through the song makes the furious eruption of instrumental noise and wordless screams at the end that much more gratifying.

The instrumental “bonus track” of the digital download, “Where Life Springs Forth” is an interesting ambient palate cleanser.  After the life/death/decay/rebirth themes of the first track, the synth-electronic soundscape had me thinking about Godflesh at Justin Broadrick’s most industrial moments and Eraserhead sets blasted by radiation.  This echoey nightmare doesn’t seem to evoke any humanity, or any life whatsoever.  This extended transition is a perfect bridge to Manikineter’s post-apocalyptic avant garde noise wizardry.

“We Don’t Remember Asking” opens as a near inverse of “Decay is a Womb” – a single voice intones a chant, but this isn’t the unifying uplift of “Decay” – this is quavering, extended, looping into inhuman manipulations while an intensely distorted voice rambles under layers of static.  The voice crackles on for minutes at a time, a ghost in the machine, until it’s buried under layers of synth and drum machines.  Synth bass and sparse drum machine fills emerge from the background before Carl Kavorkian’s lyrics flow out like missives from a numbers station.  With the mechanized, steady pattern of his words, it almost feels safely repetitive until a shrieking voice breaks out, describing horrific surreal images: “Despot’s Chest poked, brain in sight thru nose” really stuck with me in a viscerally unsettling way.

Manikineter’s bonus track here, “Shoot the Chalice (Re-Mixed)” is a deeply distressing noise nightmare.  If God Root’s purely instrumental track toyed with post-humanism, this is a straight out antinatalist dirge.  If there’s anything vaguely biological here, it’s the buzzing of carrion flies, the shrieks of metal and machinery that evokes pure agony, the endless looping of synthesized screams forever and ever amen.  This is advanced level noise mastery here with occasional glowing notes thrown in above the miasma.  True disciples of auditory pain will love this – others may be left cradling their precious eardrums.

As a whole, “The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” functions how the best splits always do – it pulled me in with one thing I love and introduced me to something else I’d love to learn more about.  The fact that it does so in a cross-genre way is even more exciting and, frankly, something more “EXTREME METAL” bands should consider.  The palettes of so many seemingly disparate scenes are cross pollinating and colliding in ways that go far beyond the simplified “rap meets metal!” cover stories that flooded Hit Parader and a million other shitty magazines that littered my floor as a seventh grader.  Instead, we have two really interesting, important underground musicians on the cusp of even bigger things, both ruminating on themes of decay, loss, death, and chaos.  The fact that I want to see the ways they intersect and diverge beyond this record means I can only see this brief experiment as an unmitigated success.

“The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” is available HERE