Before diving into the death metal that obviously flies under a banner like Coffin Lust, let’s briefly talk Cinderella. Whether or not you’ve had the feeling of being utterly awestruck by a woman to the point where you’d be willing to run around like a lunatic with a shoe for an hour and change trying to get her name and number the day after, I’m sure the sentiment is appreciated. With music you can have a corresponding experience, hearing a song that makes a huge impression that forces you to seek it out, along with the record it came from. If I were to hear a song from these Aussies’ debut Manifestation of Inner Darkness, I’m not sure I’d rush to seek it out. I’d probably listen with a smile on my face and afterwards say that it was pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Apparently Coffin Lust has somehow managed to make “Metal of Death in the ancient way – but the signposts are no longer obvious, and a clear identity has emerged” according to the wonderfully torturous prose typical of promotional metal writing. I’m hoping I never meet whoever wrote that at a four-way intersection, because chances are he or she would miss the important signpost that has a red octagon that says “STOP” and utterly total my car, because the “signposts” influencing the sound of Manifestation of Inner Darkness are only hard to see if for some reason you can’t fathom more than two influences playing a part in a band’s sound. Coffin Lust sound like a Swe-death version of Disciples of Mockery liberally seasoned with the sounds of Grave, Asphyx, and Autopsy.
If death metal is your thing, then this grab bag of references will suit your fancy well enough. “Mass Extinction” begins with a fairly typical Swede-lead that floats eerily over top of what’s essentially a Dismember riff and promptly transitions to Coffin Lust being faithful disciples of the Disciples, eventually switching the drumming to the mid-paced modern Grave style with an Asphyx flavor added in. A less charmingly sloppy and more Swe-death-y Autopsy vibe dominates “Prophecy of Malevolence” and it’s a pretty nifty tune. It constantly hints at a killer half-time bludgeoning, and when it finally delivers it hits hard. That’s good songwriting, and launching back into the speediness with some of the better riffs on the record serves to reinforce that. The quick pace of “Chaos Absolute” is well-done and sees Coffin Lust doing their usual Swe-death/Disciples of Mockery shindig with competent riffing and some slower and crunchier bits that pleasantly reminded me of newer Grave during the last third.
Manifestation of Inner Darkness does nothing wrong and everything right, insofar as right can be defined as playing competent yet extremely middle of the road death metal. There’s nothing here that will cause me to jump immediately to Coffin Lust when I’m itching for my death metal fix, but if someone were to put it on I’d be content. Take opening track “Excoriation of Morality” and follow-up “Beyond Redemption” for instance: both are close to seven minutes, and neither noticeably drag or overstay their welcome. And yet, they don’t really take advantage of their long runtimes in the manner a band like Vital Remains is capable of. They exist in place instead of moving somewhere meaningful, toying with a few good ideas and being satisfactory overall before exiting stage left to mild applause. It’s good, but good in the sense that sitting in a pleasantly scented room is; not a particularly moving experience, but one that you’d be hard-pressed to complain about. Or, as AMG phrased it, Coffin Lust may as well be the vanilla-scented candle of death metal.
I like Manifestation of Inner Darkness. It’s a good record, and if you like death metal you won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to be left contented than truly impressed. If you’re the type who gorges on the buffet of death metal and then proceeds to spew names as if someone offered you a wafer-thin mint when asked about what good stuff you’re listening to, Coffin Lust would doubtlessly show up in the stream. This whole package screams 90s, and even does us the favor of making things fairly organic and dynamic in its production. This is well and good, but if this actually came out in the 90s, chances are “Prophecy of Malevolence” would’ve made a label compilation leaving fans to wonder what happened to them since that song was quality stuff. An enjoyable listen but not a necessary one, Coffin Lust have given us some quintessentially good death metal. I can and do appreciate that.