The Bavarian vegans are back with their new album “Manifesto”. Yes, I’m talking about DEADLOCK and while they’ve been garnering pretty positive reviews for their previous effort “Wolves”, I had not been fully convinced, mostly due to it losing my attention sometime in the middle despite its immediate catchiness and amalgamation of melodic Death Metal and Gothic Metal, which has lots of mass appeal for sure and everything was well done, too, but something failed to grab me.
So now they are back and give it another try and they’ve expanded their horizon a bit by incorporating a few somewhat different elements into their sound, but more on that in a moment. Just like with the previous album, there is an intro, this one creatively titled “The Moribund Choir vs. The Trumpets Of Armageddon”, which is just as useless as the last one, being something like Dancefloor music with a distorted “Come on Motherfuckers”, which seems completely out of place in there, but oh well, “Martyr To Science” takes up the theme of the intro and translates it into the modern melodic Death Metal that we’ve grown to know from the Germans combining growls and quite nice riffing with super melodic passages and Sabine Weniger’s very good Gothic stylings, so this one takes up, where “Wolves” had left off, good song, good start, now let’s just see, how they’ll continue, shall we?
The Death Metal passages of “Slaughter’s Palace” are a bit faster and heavier, but at the same time the melodic interludes also are more defined, pushing the two extremes a little more, but here one problem comes to the fore, the interchangeability of Johannes Prem’s growls and screams, which sometimes get a little muddy and uniform, which is a bit of a beef with me, also in terms of the songs per se, because despite the quality of the single songs I am experiencing the same problem as with “Wolves”, things seem to sound a little too similar over the course of the album. Now the odd thing is that if you compare any two songs, there is quite a bit of variety in-between them, so it is not as if they would play the more or less same song over and over again, but over the whole album it becomes clear that many of the songs are based on the same formula, which is the problem here.
As mentioned before, the band tries to shake things up with some different elements, such as the Dancefloor of the intro, some electronic fiddlings and a pure Rap/Hip Hop part that makes up the end of “Deathrace” and completely loses me (and the lyrics sound somewhat vegan-preachy to me), while “Fire At Will” right after shows the band sharper than ever, with drive, dynamics and everything you need for a great song, even the inclusion of a saxophone works, so do you understand, why I am getting frustrated with this album? So one word that marks “Manifesto” is inconsistency, because they do not seem to be able to stick through it all, because “Dying Breed” is another good and intense song, while “Altruism” is very quiet, just drums, piano and vocals, breaking the flow of the album, well, if it wasn’t the next to last song. And the cover version of “Temple Of Love” at the end, it is not an easy song to cover and DEADLOCK actually surprised me on this one, because the guitars play a way more important role (that’s one thing that I hate about most other covers of this song, where the keyboards just drown out everything) and overall the vocal interplay adds to the song, yes, I would not have expected this!
So once more I’m torn, because there is obvious quality, but then there also is inconsistency and this odd kind of uniformity. While I do not have any problems with bands trying out different things and incorporating different elements, the electronics, Dancefloor and Rap/Hip Hop threw me off and while I am sure that it is possible to use vegan lyrics effectively in Metal, they come off as too preachy to me and do not really touch me in any way. If you’ve already been a fan of DEADLOCK, you probably will love “Manifesto”, if you didn’t like them, you can stay away from this one as well, if you didn’t know them, well, it’ll be up to you, if you actually want to get acquainted with them... I think this one calls for a second opinion...
(Online January 21, 2009)