Review: Crawling Manifest – Lords of War

The wondrous world of metal band names can roughly be divided into five categories: Fitting, imposing, contradictory, meaningful and incomprehensible. Crawling Manifest is definitely part of the latter, at least as far as I’m concerned, because I really have no clue why one would call a metal band that. If anything it attracts attention and, in all honesty, as long as they play great tunes I couldn’t care less what they call themselves. Being formed in 2014 this now trio hails from Greensboro, Maryland, USA. When you take a look at the current line-up you can’t help but wonder how this band has any right to exist, because with Andrew Gladu as lead vocalist, Andrew Mimms as guitarist/backing vocalist and Trevor Layton as guitarist/backing vocalist it doesn’t take a genius to see there’s a few rather crucial elements missing. Of course this hasn’t always been the case, a bassist and a drummer have been part of the band’s line-up at some point, but at the moment it’s just these three. The lack of a rhythm section didn’t stop the remaining trio from releasing an EP, their third release after their debut EP Forevermore and full-length Battlegrounds. It’s called Lords of War and consists of five songs spanning a little under half an hour.

According to their rather brief bio the individual (past) members grew up under the influence of a wide range of metal genres, all inevitably leaving more or less distinct marks on Crawling Manifest’s music and to top things off the word ‘Bay’ has been mentioned as well. As promising as that may sound I have to admit I have had a hard time writing an honest review about this release, because the sound is, let’s keep it as optimistic and positive as I can, mediocre at best. This is making it quite difficult to get a realistic, objective idea of the band’s skills. The vocal track is way too present in the mix while on the other hand all other tracks are pushed too far into the background making them sound muffled and never really stand out. It does give this release the feel of an eighties metal band playing in some garage creating a one-take, self-recorded demo on a cheap tape recorder standing right in front of the vocalist. Loads of nostalgia here, making me consider this sound might be a deliberate action, but I doubt this will appeal to many people. Nevertheless I will try to ignore the production and give you an objective meaning about the music Crawling Manifest composes.

The story behind Lords of War is a tale about crusaders, battles and betrayal. Opener Paladins March is a rather old-school-thrash influenced piece of work that actually has a nice vibe to it, with a nice rhythm section and a howling solo as most striking feats. The vocals spoil the fun, as they now are I can’t say I’m a fan to be honest, something that might very well be due to, again, the production of this EP. What I hear music-wise is good enough to make me wonder how this would sound with a better production, I really think they’re selling themselves short here. Anyway, next up is the title track that pretty much builds on the same rhythm section and has a solo as well, but the overall speed is upped a notch. Shrapnel Wings is the most groovy song of this release, while Aim to Kill is the most energetic with its machine gun drums. This release is closed with Divine Crusade, ending my ordeal just before I reached my limit. Again in itself a decent song, a more heavy metal oriented song with tight drum lines at high speed, but hardly recognizable as such due to, once more, the substandard production.

So concluding I think it’s safe to say that, to be honest, this release left me with a substantial feeling of disappointment. There is no doubt the guys from Crawling Manifest can compose and play some decent metal with a serious old school vibe to it, but the amateur production takes away a huge chunk of the experience and fun. It might very well be I’d recommend this when produced properly, because I think the songs aren’t all that bad, but it takes quite some determination and courage to sit this one through as it is. A shame really. Hopefully they’ll come up with a decent production next time which I’m sure will give them way better critics. Play at your own risk, you have been warned.

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