APRIL 2014: Dead in the Manger release their debut EP, Transcience—a six-song effort totaling a mere 18 minutes—on 20 Buck Spin. I was obsessed from the first eerie, almost ambient track, but had no luck learning more about the band. See, here’s the thing: no one has any idea who these guys are. Not in a cheesy, Ghost-type way; more in a classic, black metal manner, where it feels like these guys might actually need to hide their identities for some reason. At any rate, less than a year later, the mystery men are back with another six-songer called Cessation, which showcases plenty of growth, both musically and in the resulting intrigue surrounding the band.
Much like its predecessor, the album includes six, Roman-numeral-titled songs, and features crunchy guitars, beautifully ambient interludes, grindcore style blast beats and just an overall massive sound. The album features long, drawn out, (but never boring) doomy-style sludge and post-black metal grooves. Not to imply that Transcience was lacking anything, but Cessation makes tremendous use of its interludes, which really pump the momentum between thrashes. Slower parts can be deadly and the band knows how to to use them to build the tension before flying off into a fuzzy grind.
Without falling into a song-by-song review of this album, I will let you know that it’s really one massive piece. The songs blend seamlessly into one another, and if you’re playing it on repeat, you might notice that the final track falls squarely into the intro to the first track. The album takes on a feeling of endlessness as it drones on and on into infinity, folding slowly over onto itself. It’s almost hypnotic.
The production here is absolutely fantastic. The band veers away from classic, black metal production tropes like under-mixed vocals and tinny drum sounds, and instead creates a very organic, raw feel—maintaining a thick wall of sound throughout Cessation that will not disappoint the audiophile in you. The mix is thick but not lacking in clarity and separation in the instruments. And don’t discount the band’s ability to edit; they’ve clearly chosen consistency and replay value over excessive length. The final song is their longest at just over eight-minutes—short for most black metal outfits—and despite featuring a roughly four-minute, drone-like groove during one stretch, it never once gets boring.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, open a bottle of red wine, sit in the dark and just let this play on loop for a few hours. The darkest reaches of your soul will not regret it.