You just can’t keep these Norwegians down. Surely, the band considered themselves “dead” with their previous outing, 2014’s Be All End All, but as the title for this new disc (and yes, it is an all-new recording, not a compilation or interim EP) states, the band’s death is going to be a very slow process. Which is fine for me, as it seems like they’ve still got some fire in them.
Fans of the avant-electronic style of the band’s previous albums will be happy with this continued approach that feels like a mixture of Arcturus, Ulver, modern Leprous, and Estonia’s Forgotten Sunrise. Not surprisingly, fans of those bands will also enjoy this material quite a bit, especially due to the fact that the rock element wasn’t forsaken and two axemen are actually featured on the album, providing what I would consider ironically more memorable riffs than I’ve heard on most of the modern tech-death excursions.
The vocals are hit-and-miss on the record, as there are still a few ham-fisted notions here and there, and Aesgir Hatlen’s approach won’t be for everyone. That being said, he still manages to hit many of the notes on cuts like “Therapism” and “Scion,” which features a duet with a female vocalist who is not mentioned anywhere in the band’s line-up. Believe me, I’ve looked. She’s a great vocalist, but has gone largely uncredited for some reason or another.
When the band aren’t playing with electronics, they’re making melancholic alternative rock not unlike modern Muse. “Last Resort” is a good expression of this, with its depressing melodies and equally passionate vocal outings. Coupled with a tranquil guitar solo, it soon takes off as the unknown female vocalist begins to really belt it out, reminding me of modern Anathema at their strongest. They could have ended the album with a node like this, but it works as a fine high water mark for the recording and is one of the strongest offerings in the band’s lengthy career.
In fact, while there are several other solid cuts on the record following it, nothing, in my opinion, really hits harder or sounds even remotely like what was done here. “Poison Enough For Everyone” actually offsets it as the darkest and heaviest track on the disc, while “Building The Ship Of Theseus” brings off a more light-hearted feel.
All in all, I’m not at all displeased with this mixture of electronic rock and synth atmosphere, because it holds actual weight and substance, and that’s not just in the vocal outings dispersed throughout the record. Slow Motion Death Sequence is a guitar record after all, unlike several similar outings where the guitar has been shoved to the back or is removed completely in favor of more synth elements.
I feel that this unexpected inclusion makes the record a far more entertaining record than most in this particular gamut and would certainly advise giving it a listen. It may not be the heavier and darker Manes that we know, but this is a sign that the band still have creative juices flowing, and maybe we shouldn’t let them die just yet.