Manzer - Beyond the Iron Portal - (8.5/10)
Published on June 1, 2017
The Pictavian bastards return for their sophomore full length album of alcohol fueled blackened thrashing madness, Beyond the Iron Portal, which was released on CD through drummer/vocalist Shaxul’s Armée de la Mort Records and, more recently, on cassette through Infernö Records. The album features thirty-seven minutes of speeding metal shredding, the way metal was meant to be played.
If Show No Mercy, Welcome to Hell and The Dwelling all met up in a dive bar, got wasted, and then went slumming in the back alleys after midnight, Beyond the Iron Portal would be the result. Manzer delivers an album full of rollicking rhythms, sauntering riffs and a whole bevy of speed metal infused lead guitar licks. It’s all presented with a filthy and sleazy production that highlights its evil nature, giving a decidedly old school flair to the album.
With Beyond the Iron Portal Manzer doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel; Shaxul has pretty much stated that in interviews. Instead, the band aims at playing metal the ancient way; citing the likes of Sabbat, Venom, Motörhead and Bathory among their main influences. It should really be no surprise, then, that this album rips and tears with the best of them. Shaxul’s percussion is spot on, presenting choppy double kicks and galloping bursts of speed, while Fëarann’s rolling bass lines are extremely prominent, giving a nice, fat low end to complement the guitar licks. The loud bass helps keep things moving when the guitar dives into rocking, flailing speed metal solos, as no rhythm guitars fill in the space. While the rhythm section gets shit done, Hylde’s riffing steals the show, with its rock-the-fuck attitude and no frills blackened thrashing speed metal mastery.
Fans of the first wave of black metal should find everything they need and want nestled neatly within the confines of Beyond the Iron Portal. This is a throwback to when genre lines were blurred and heavy metal was just heavy metal. Solid riffs, rocking rhythms and Shaxul’s garbled growl, not to mention those rare, nasty falsettos, make this a solid top ten contender for album of the year. This isn’t pretty; this isn’t polished; it’s heavy fucking metal played the way it’s supposed to be played.