Written By: Nameless N00b_15
Metalcore is an important genre. Now that all the metal elitists are lighting torches and gathering pitchforks, let me explain. Most kids these days (sadly) aren’t listening to Master of Puppets, and the gateway bands of the 80’s simply are not converting new people. I would never have discovered this site and thereby many of my now favorite bands like Wilderun, Barren Earth, Æther Realm1 without first stumbling onto Killswitch Engage. So, my interest was piqued when Lord Druhm visited the n00b dungeon to deliver the promo for Italian band Manam’s debut, Rebirth of Consciousness, promising a blend of melodeath and metalcore. My optimistic spirit was swiftly trounced when I saw the band already had plans for two more concept albums with books and movies attached, and cited Wintersun, Opeth, and Trivium as their main influences.
There’s so much that could go wrong with a concept album incorporating the styles of the above bands that it almost boggles the mind. To their credit, Manam avoids most of the obvious perils that could have befallen their debut. The 45-minute rule is obeyed, frivolous instrumental bombast is kept to a minimum, and, most importantly, they keep all of the songs interesting whilst spinning a tale of a human rebellion against alien overlords2. As for what Rebirth of Consciousness actually sounds like, imagine Mors Principium Est was locked in a recording studio for several years with Trivium and Killswitch Engage, spawning a melocore band. The Wintersun influence is localized almost entirely to the harsh vocals and Opethian melodic flourishes appear only intermittently.
There’s no denying that Manam are imitating The Crusades- and Ascendancy-era Trivium, but they avoid the vapid monotony of most modern metalcore. From the undulating riff in “Inner Daemon” calling to mind Amon Amarth,to the quasi-breakdown in “Atman Denied,” or the distortion-filled, bend-heavy clean intro of “Revelation” summoning the specter of Jimi Hendrix, Manam cast their musical net wide. Marco Salvador (lead) and Fabiola Bellomo (rhythm) work well together, and every song has at least one riff that burrows into your skull. All of the band’s influences come together on highlight track “Sahara,” which incorporates Opeth-worthy acoustic portions, a triumphant final guitar solo, and even some borrowed Dream Theater synths. As icing on the cake, the production is quite good as well, with every single track weighing in at DR 8. This allows Marco Montipò’s bass to rumble along pleasantly and gives Nicola De Cesero’s drums the appropriate sounds, from the bass of the kick to the shimmer of a cymbal.
What most listeners will take issue with are Salvador’s weak clean vocals and the unfinished feeling emanating from some songs. The clean vocals aren’t hard to listen to by any means, but they lack the vibrancy of a Matt Heafy3 or Jari Mäenpää. There’s also a distinct lack of strength to nail what are clear climax moments like the choruses to “Aman” or “Revelation.” Additionally, one gets the feeling that some songs could use more time in the oven, as there are a handful of moments when things feel directionless (the first solo in “Atman Denied”), or incorporate jarring new elements. There are also a couple spoken word sections that, while not abhorrent, don’t add much to the compositions either, and feel like they were used as a crutch. Given that the band formed barely a year ago, I suspect that some songs simply didn’t get iterated upon enough to smooth over these rougher elements.
Rebirth of Consciousness is far better than it ought to be. Given the amalgam of influences they cited and the short incubation time, I expected either an overwrought mess or an immature flop. Manam defied my expectations, delivering a solid debut with memorable moments peppered throughout. This isn’t going to be competing with Tarot for space atop the melodeath podium, but with more time, experience, and perhaps a voice coach, I suspect Manam could deliver some even better core-influenced melodeath.