posted on 7/2008 By:
Previously a metalcore band, Belgium's Psalm have unveiled a new sound, a new direction on this transitional EP: blackened death metal, or something resembling blackened death metal, anyway. Given this information, Manifest sounds exactly as you'd expect: somewhat awkward, markedly stunted, and uncomfortably transparent.
Psalm don't break any rules, nor do they commit any comical errors. Well, I guess the token swirly-twirly intro track and the cheeseball, pitch-shifted spoken word parts are unintentially smirk/groan-inducing, but the band largely play things safe. Unfortunately, an overreliance on abrasive staccato riffing basically renders them a Lamb of God doppleganger with semi-blackened vocals. Neither effective nor clever, "Layers of Impiety" exploits this influence in especially boring and predictable fashion, while "Exhoratation" provides the town of Drudgeryville with a jagged, vexatious borderline.
Nutshelled, the full shift from metalcore to blackened death hasn't been made quite yet. The cosmetics are sexy enough - the cover art is certainly genre-appropriate, the song titles don't induce cartoonish eye-rolling (they decided against re-recording "Butterfly Suicide" for this one, so that saves 'em some grief), and the band logo has changed for the better. But Manifest showcases a band at a crossroads, and the roads are tricky to traverse. Their newfound influences aren't deeply ingrained, and their lack of originality is bursting from the metal-stitched seams. It's assured that Psalm have studied the hell out of the latest surface-scratching Meshuggah, Dimmu, and Behemoth albums, but the band still doesn't seem comfortable with their new direction; a fact that becomes more apparent with each lap around the track.
The final song carries some furious potential with its blast-backed thrashery, but the majority of this recording is hackeneyed and uninteresting. Psalm's future success will hinge on whether they are willing to stand upon a structure built of their own ideas, rather than lean on a cane of cliches assembled from the shards spewed by their CD changers.
In a word? Unconvincing.
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