Album: Prelude – EP
There are reasons every one does anything in life—on some level or another, there is a primary mover, or, an inkling which casts premonition into action. There are things people do for duty, or moral obligation. There are those things done to prove to one’s self that they can indeed accomplish the task at question. Finally, there are those who do something just because they can—because action for the sake of action is still better than no action at all. All of these apply to Ohio-based heavy musicians, Manipulator—and as a result, we get Prelude, an EP consisting of three re-worked tracks from the band’s arsenal of angry, down-tempo anguish. Showcasing a line-up change and several musical reworkings to their already masterfully crafted breed of metalcore, Prelude is a palate-whetting teaser for awe-inducing material to come.
At the forefront of Manipulator’s refreshed releases of “The Expressionless,” “Cowards” and the crowd-pleaser “Demoralizing Truth” is an upgraded instrumental assault and a new voice that preaches the anger-fueled missile of hate that is Prelude. Many of the riffs the listener came to love the first time around are back—crisper, clearer and with more definition, such that the listener can truly feel the razor-sharp riffs digging into their ears like razor wire. Underneath those disastrously dissonant and down-tempo grooves lie pulverizing percussion that has been bolstered and strengthened to propel the music even more aggressively into the listener’s ears.
The vocal element on Manipulator’s latest release is another renewed facet of the band’s sound compared to their previous materials. After the departure of their previous vocalist, Manipulator’s new preacher of hate and hellfire is neither objectively better nor worse; rather, he is simply different. Where, previously, a perfectly fitting and vicious guttural bellow dominated the instrumentation with demonstrative fury, there is a newfound penchant for variation to be heard on Prelude. “Cowards” in particular, capitalizes on the new and more varied vocal attacks employed while incapacitating the listener. This fresh and diverse vocal onslaught better suits the upgraded and more engaging mixing and writing of the riffs and drumming which serve as Manipulator’s backbone—however, because of the difference it provides, the tracks seem to stray further from the same bitter, brooding down-tempo savagery seen on the band’s self-titled release, and more towards a groovier and more technically savvy blend of metallic riffing and hardcore energy.
This newfound dynamic established on Prelude make it the work of more than just a band recording something because, well, they can. Rather, it demonstrates Manipulator’s progression as a cohesive song-writing unit, and their desire to include greater amounts of technicality and intricacy to their songwriting approach. Indeed, this isn’t quite the same Manipulator that released one of 2013’s finest heavy EPs—rather, it is a band with refreshed vigor and anxiety desperate to rip their listener’s ears off and cram them down their throats with raw, insatiable bloodlust.
For Fans Of: Hail to the King, Silence, Beacons, All’s Quiet
By: Connor Welsh