Mānbryne – Heilsweg: O udrece ciala i tulaczce duszy Review

The reason many debut albums sound so good, the theory goes, is that the composer has been creating and honing these songs (at least in their head) their whole life. What the songs lack in finesse, they make up for with creativity and fresh energy. It’s why hardcore fans of many bands prefer their earlier output, before an established groove was settled into. What happens, though, when you have the shaggy exuberance of a fresh and gifted songwriter, combined with the talents of more experienced heads to hone and polish the rougher edges? Mānbryne answers that question with Heilsweg: O udrece ciala i tulaczce duszy (Of Carnal Torment and The Wandering of the Soul). Although this is a debut album, it features veterans of the Polish scene (Priest on drums, Wyrd on bass, and Sonneillon from Blaze of Perdition on vocals) and one complete newbie (Renz on guitar). In interviews, the members have stated that all the compositions are by Renz. Well, much like Alan Rickman in “Die Hard,” he has hit the ground running with his first assignment. Buckle your seat-belts, because a fearsome new talent has arrived.

Heilsweg is so compelling not because it is an unusual or revolutionary re-imagining of black metal. Rather, it takes the existing sounds of Eastern European bands and magics them into a vodka-pure distillation of their best elements. Blaze of Perdition, Mgła, and Azaroth, are clear touchstones, and the emphasis is on vicious melody rather than the gorgeous dissonance of its Scandinavian counterparts, or the avant-garde antics of the French.  What makes Heilsweg so extraordinary is not the uniqueness of the sound but the consistent quality of its compositions. There are five tracks here, and they’re all uniquely brilliant.

The careful yet confident construction of these tracks is the ultimate key to their success. The band usually begins with a fairly killer riff or idea, which most groups would recycle as the body for a great song. Mānbryne has loftier goals, and uses this as a basic launching pad for even better ideas, which organically emerge as the song progresses. Often, the band takes two or more concepts and intertwines them seamlessly as the run-time progresses. The melodies dance and spar and fence in equal measure, all while standing on a tightrope. This elaborate balancing act is so natural that by the time the songs reach their apotheosis, the listener is simply overwhelmed by the quality of riffs with which they are being bombarded. Take “W Pogoni Za Wiara” (In Pursuit of Faith): a gentle opening alternates with furious blast beats that initially sound fairly straightforward. Halfway through, two completely new and brilliant riffs gallop into the fray and elevate the track to a whole new level. This is repeated song after song, making Heilsweg a consistent and endlessly rewarding listen. The band shifts through ideas like an elite relay team, creating riffs that fizz and crackle off each other. It’s a trick many experienced acts fail at, but from the opening horror dub, to the final bars of “Na trupa trup” (Corpses upon Corpses), every beat here is measured and important.

Clever song structures are nothing without melodies to complement them. Once again, Mānbryne shines. Heilsweg is overflowing with surprisingly catchy and memorable moments. Whether the rip-roaring chorus of “Pustka, Ktora Znam (The Emptiness I Know),” the mournful mid-song bridge of “Ostatni Splot” (The Last Knot),” or the entirety of “Majestat Upadku” (Majesty of the Fall), the album has more hooks than a malevolent abattoir. More importantly, like ink in water, the album is infused with real feeling, emphasized by the howling, melancholic vocals of S. Perhaps this is the real secret sauce: great tracks, great melodies and a profound sense of loss and melancholy which underlines, rather than overwhelms, the melodies.

At its best, black metal is furious, cavernous, melodic, melancholic, and complex. Mānbryne’s debut is all of the above, and more. I simply have not been able to stop listening to this fierce beast. Unlike some albums, it doesn’t reveal all of its secrets immediately, and like Shrek’s famous onion, there are layers. Some commitment is therefore required to peel away the complexity. But doing so reveals a collection brimming with everything a black metal fan could possibly want. With Heilsweg: O udrece ciala i tulaczce duszy, Mānbryne has bashed to the top of the metal scene like a deranged Kool-Aid Man. You’d be a fool not to taste.



Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Terratur Possessions and Malignant Voices
Websites: manbryne.bandcamp.com  |  facebook.com/manbryne
Releases Worldwide: April 9th, 2021

« »