Mysterious Dead in the Manger remain hopeless, devastating on doomy, black new EP ‘Cessation’

Dead in the MangerGrief and human horror sound like great topics for a Monday, when hope and enthusiasm are at their lowest. At least for normal people. I can’t really account for those people who show up at 7 a.m. and are amped beyond belief for life.

So let’s jump head first into the new Dead in the Manger album “Cessation,” a miserable, furious display of six interconnected tracks that will make a lousy day seem completely bleak. They made a tremendous debut in 2013 with the fire-breathing, tumultuous “Transience,” a record that introduced the world to this mysterious band that added new levels of darkness into the metal community. This new entry deepens the disturbing elements they already unleashed and makes them even grimmer. The new songs share similar traits as the ones on their debut as they’re devoid of names other than labeled by parts, and the band still refuses to share their identities. Why unveil parts of this band they don’t see as important, like who they are and what they’ve done? This way, you can dig right into the music and absorb it for what it is with no prejudice or preconceived notions.

Dead in the Manger cover“Part I” begins the record, quite obviously, as the first moments of the song trickle cleanly and give the album an ominous, misleading introduction. The track then opens up into doomy punishment, giving the atmosphere a murky ambiance that feels like it could threaten at any moment. The song veers back and forth, with the tempo slowing down and boiling back up again, and the final seconds spilling melody and fire into “Part II,” which is clubbing and miserable from the start. The band heads into a black metal fury, with raspy growls emerging, melody mixing into the vicious machination, and more doom muddying the waters. There’s another vicious outburst, with the drums crushing bones into powder, the playing dizzying, and slow driving mauling bringing the song to a volcanic end. “Part III” spills noise into the scene, with a dusty industrial feel taking over, and then filthy riffs emerging. The riffs then drizzle down like a blood spray, with the band pounding away and the heaviness smothering faces.

“Part IV” blows open with fast, blistering playing, techy madness that comes out of nowhere and feels oddly fitting, and a tidal wave of destruction. There is cool, inventive guitar work, which makes the brain waves charge, and airy, spastic melodies that ring out hard. “Part V” starts with clean, fuzzy guitars, melodies that roll cleanly, and a weird fog that feels like the kind that emerges during the winter when warmer temperatures and rain start to defeat the ice. There’s a sense all along that something bad is brewing, and when that terror rises up, it’s in the form of vicious grinding and more face-splitting drumming. Closer “Part VI” is the longest at 8:06, but they take zero time to unload. The song explodes with riffs defacing, the assault coming fast and crazily, and the vocals sounding ugly and bloody. The tempo teases calm at times, as the clouds roll in, but they always unleash the fury again, with massive amounts of devastation and the band clubbing you over and over before the record subsides and lets you have a modicum of mercy. But you’re still in severe pain, so it’s not a lot of solace.

Dead in the Manger are well on their way to establishing themselves as one of the most vicious, hopeless (philosophically, that is) bands in the extreme metal arena. They don’t give a damn what they throw into their poisonous stew, as long as it maims and continues to give off a sense that everything they know is horrible and eventually going to destroy. “Cessation” will make you feel worse than you already do today, but look on the bright side: It’s only downhill from here! Right?

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