Mixing death with thrash and some exceptionally huge grooves, Manifest's third full-length, Written In Blood, is a beast of an album. What they have achieved here is phenomenal, the sum being greater than its already-great parts. In terms of performance, Leknes' vocals are everything from wrathful and venomous to the clean and melodic; Elide's drum-work shines through as he glides through groove after groove with cool flourishes and smart fills; Wangberg's bass is furious and his lines angry, melodic, and provide a solid foundation for Larmerud's fervid lead work. And together, the riffs, the grooves, the tracks are as heavy as an exceptionally heavy thing. Groove-laden with chugging riffs and chunky chords, it's one merciless offensive after another. 'Food For Flies', at just two and a half minutes, shifts through the dynamics quickly but no less effectively than on the longer tracks.
Setting the bar very high in the first four tracks, you'd think that Manifest could take it no further, but incredibly, 'Pitch Black Inside' shifts the album up a further notch or two. With hints of Pantera in the vocal and the chugging grooves of the verses, interspersing the heavy riffs with an all-too-brief clean guitar passage at around the 2-minute mark is a masterstroke, and the second part of the track shifts between the heavy and the melodic before making its way to the close with a slow, double-bass drum battery beneath an absolutely colossal riff. And it doesn't stop there. The lead work, the angry bass grooves, and the venom of the chorus in 'A .45 to Pay the Rent' are just massive. The mob chorus and the thrash grooves of 'Lullaby (Bedtime for Bastards)' are astounding. 'Letter From The Grave' combines a clean guitar with plenty of toms a clean vocal for a softer but no less emotive track. After the annihilation of the groove-laden 'Irreversible', 'Savage' introduce a few more surprises, such as the intriguing drum and bass work that opens up 'Savage' into a track of mammoth proportions, and the monster groove of the second half. And the title track is where Manifest return to the task of punishing the listener with unremitting brutality.
The song writing is top notch, the control of the dynamic is remarkable, the structures are concrete, and the production means every nuance can be heard. When Larmerud takes a lead with no rhythm guitar to back him up, the bass steps up to the mark with a fat tone and grooves to fortify the bridge between it and the drums. Though the performance of all four members of Manifest is second to none, it's Elide that shines through. What he does truly makes what is a great album an excellent one. Manifest has lived, breathed, and died every ounce of this album. This album deserves its title.
- Tonnie von Adqelaine
- They'll Have to Carry Me Home
- Food for Flies
- The Worst Is Yet to Come
- Pitch Black Inside
- A .45 to Pay the Rent
- Lullaby (Bedtime for Bastards)
- Letter from the Grave
- Written in Blood