Somewhere between the early 1990’s and today the realm of Black Metal took so many left turns that at times it’s almost hard to distinguish who we should and shouldn’t call by that name. One thing has remained a constant though, and that’s the feeling you get when you listen to an album that pulls enough from black metal to be considered amongst the genre. No matter how experimental, or how thought-provoking a particular album may be, there’s always that impending sense of dread and isolation a good black metal album can instill. For the mysterious collective known as Dead In the Manger, their debut full-length album, Cessation, is an absolute examination of both fathomless isolation and never ending dread.
Dead In The Manger made a massive statement with their debut EP, last year’s Transience. From the get go this outfit has been on the cutting edge of the extreme music pantheon, so simply labeling this album ‘black metal’ and then walking away like a negligent parent is a disingenuous proposition. While the crux of this album may find this band laying themselves upon a bed of frost-bitten, blackened nails, they are constantly incorporating elements from as far ranging as crust punk to shoegaze/post-rock. Album opener, “Part I” kicks off with a sombre and reflective piece of clean guitars before giving way to crunching, sludgy madness. Finally the fury kicks in like the pen door being opened to allow a hundred hungry swine to fight to the death over the scraps left in the trough. It’s a powerful juxtaposition between the serene and the profane.
But even in what bittersweet reprieves Dead In The Manger may offer, their many goal is to pretty much obliterate everything and anything in their path. This is a venomous record built on spite and melded together with consternation and loathing. Even on a track like “V” where a similar clean-toned guitar interlude opens it up, there is this feeling of utter emptiness, of a world that’s finally lost the battle with being human. It’s these apocalyptic visions that set the stage for the sonic confrontation that follows, as blast beats battle with drone and doom-like guitar riffs. It’s an overpowering track that empties like a polluted river into the ocean of swirling black metal and rhythmic devastation on “Part VI”.
Dead In The Manager are a band on a mission, not unlike an army marching to war, knowing they will try like hell to take everyone down with them when they go. Yet, no matter how fast and pissed this album gets there are still those ever-prevailing elements of sombre isolation and dread. Needless to say that Cessation is an album not recommended for those of weak constitution. It’s the type of album that would chew you up and spit you out if you let it, like an owl depositing the remains of its kill in unwanted little piles.
Cessation will be released through 20 Buck Spin in North America on February 3. You can listen to the churning blitzkrieg that is “IV” at the 20 Buck Spin Bandcamp page.