Crawling Manifest – Radical Absolution Review

I hate to admit it, but I laughed when I first saw the name Crawling Manifest. I immediately had images of babies presenting documentation of the dangerous cargo held within their diapers as they crawl from one location to another pop into my head, and once I saw those images, they were impossible to unsee. My apologies to the band for this, but the strange mind does what the strange mind will do. Radical Absolution is the sophomore record from these Maryland thrashers, coming by way of self-release. I always enjoy picking up independent promos. It’s exciting, like a rousing game of Russian roulette. Thrash has been extremely good to me this year, so how could I turn away a promo that claims to be for fans of Testament, Power Trip, Exodus, Megadeth, and Lamb of God? Let’s put these name drops to the test, shall we?

Hmmmmm. Well, Crawling Manifest certainly has thrash in its musical genetic makeup, but I’m hearing something more akin to Pantera than any of the bands mentioned above. This is probably due, in most part, to the extremely Anselmoian vocals of Andrew Gladu, a man who shouts and screams like some sort of cattleman from Hades. Just check out the embedded single “Revolution,” and Gladu will phil your ears with pissed-off nothings while Trevor Layton lays down some pretty competent riff work in the tradition of Dimebag and MegaDave. This track shows the band at their very best: when the pedal is mashed straight through the footwell.

As far as the songs go, Radical Absolution is a mixed bag. “World War III” is a decent thrasher marred by a cheesy spoken-word rant and “Nothing to Lose” sounds something like a Pantera/Power Trip mashup. But there are some real head scratchers here. “Right to Refrain Silence” has some fun groove to it, but it ends with one full minute of silence. I see what you did there, Crawling Manifest, and I don’t like it. Instead of the silence bringing home the message of the song, it made me check to make sure my listening device was working on each listen. Needless to say, it’s an annoyance, and it only serves to highlight the failure of the title track that immediately follows. “Radical Absolution” begins in a subdued manner that recalls some extremely tepid post-grunge radio rock. Gladu is not skilled in the art of the croon at this point in his career, and his shaky delivery hamstrings the song’s credibility right out of the gate. The rest of the track is actually competent, but the terrible intro is the only part I end up remembering.

And then there’s the album’s most glaring problem. The production is painfully bad. Literally painful. The treble range is very shrill, the cymbal crashes (check out the opening of “Nothing to Lose” — ouch!) and high-pitched solos cutting straight through the eardrums and giving me a headache after one listen on headphones. A couple of the songs here cross the 6-minute mark, and I’m just not sure that’s necessary for this style of thrash. Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display, Nightmare Logic — the songs on these albums rarely push past 5 minutes, and hopefully Crawling Manifest will take note of this in the future.

This review reads harshly, but the criticisms found within are easily fixable. Gladu and Layton are both skilled musicians and can obviously write a thrash song. If they can cut the fluff and play to their strengths, I expect them to right the ship in short order. Hopefully album three is a well-produced collection of concise and brutal ragers.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 14th, 2021

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