Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review; Man Must Die - Peace Was Never An Option

Track Listing:

1. Congregation
2. Hiding In Plain Sight
3. Patriot
4. The Hell I Fear
5. Dissolution
6. Absence Makes The Hate Grow Stronger
7. Sectarian
8. The Price You Pay
9. Antisocial Network
10. Abuser Friendly (Feat. Max Cavalera)
11. On The Verge Of Collapse
12. The Day I Died

Glasgow Death Metal group Man Must Die have been a personal favourite of mine since I saw them open for Machine Head at their Glasgow date on the Black Procession tour. They have everything that stands for a modern Death Metal band to have; speed, technicality, sheer heaviness, acid-spewed guttural growls and screams. The difference between this band and other Death Metal bands these days is their song writing. As extreme and mind-blowing as the music on their albums; 2004's '...Start Killing', 2007's 'The Human Condition', and 2009's 'No Tolerance For Imperfection' was, there was an incredibly catchy element lined with memorable hooks. It's been four years since the monstrous 'No Tolerance...' but now 'Peace Was Never An Option' has dropped like an atom bomb to demand the attention of the Metal scene.

An unexpected start rips the door off for the first song 'Hiding In Plain Sight' and it's straight for the jugular. Insanity comes in the bucket loads in what sounds like Slipknot as a Death Metal outfit. The chorus comes in and immediately leaves a mark on the memory. A powerful start that is further strengthened by the gang-shouts of "We've got to stand and fight". It may be considered by some to be clichéd to open an album with such a balls-out call-to-arms, but nobody ever said that clichés don't work! 'Patriot' keeps the momentum going at the freight-train speed with a truly furious socio-political lyrical theme. Alan McFarland's guitar work half way through works as a rock-hard backbone to the breakdown, with vocalist Joe McGlynn's throat-ripping assault leading to a surprisingly tasteful guitar solo. Then just when it seems like things might have gotten diluted, James Burke's drumming kicks the snot out of you as the whole band hits back into what they're best at.

Speaking of the drum work; it's ridiculous as 'The Hell I Fear' begins! Then, so is the guitar work. These are insanely talented guys that work as such a tight unit. It's hard to imagine that such relentless music doesn't just sound like every other faster-than-fast, heavier-than-heavy band out there, but Man Must Die are as unique as they come. The melodicism shown in this song manages to not sound out of place, though it may take a moment or two for you to be sure of that.

Unsettling clean guitars form an instrumental opening by the name of 'Dissolution' that leads into the breakneck pummelling of 'Absence Makes The Hate Grow Stronger' staccato type riffing and tremolo picked sequences build the tension in the music as McGlynn continues his vocal showcase. There's a sea-sickness inducing guitar bend in the breakdown that helps slow the pace momentarily. All the while through all this musical wackiness, bassist Dan Firth keeps the songs rooted firmly into the tracks. 'Sectarian' is business as usual, with some more slick guitar leads that refrain from the ten-notes-a-second shred-fests that most Death Metal bands resort to in every song. Things slow down yet again in the middle of the song and we hear some cleaner guitars haunting the space around the steady drum beats.

'The Price You Pay' comes to life is a stomping masterpiece of the highest order. The strength of the songs in Man Must Die's albums has always been supercharged by brilliant lyrics. 'Peace Was Never An Option' has carried on this tradition. The fact that McGlynn delivers them with such conviction is what brings the feel of the whole album to life. A groovy little bass interlude towards the end of the song shows again that this band is not afraid to play Metal on their own terms. 'Antisocial Network' was of course the first single released by the band some time ago, and is even more of a raging beast in the context of the whole album. Again, lyrical content is a high point; a rant aimed at the over-use and abuse of things like Facebook. A much-needed statement, actually.

'Abuser Friendly' has been a bit of a talking point. Of all things, Man Must Die have managed to get Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and former Sepultura legend Max Cavalera to put his vocal brilliance into the song. It's great to hear and the song itself is brilliant anyway. Catchy-ass chorus cannot be said enough, but the best thing about this track is that it manages not to sound like a showcase for the fact that they got Cavalera to put his vocal smack-down on it, which is a thing that can often cheapen or over exaggerate the quality of a track (or in Slash's case, that first solo album overall!).

Another talking point is the final song 'The Day I Died' which is uncharacteristically long for MMD, at eight minutes, thirty-seven seconds. With a harrowing narrative including spoken word sections, this is easily the most unsettling song on the record. Musically sound, it bears all the hallmarks of the band's sound. Among twelve songs seething with the conviction of blood, sweat and tears, this song stands above all the others. Closing an absolutely astonishing album that stumps my already high expectations with ease. Listen to this record. Like, as soon as you fucking can!!

Rating: 9.5/10

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