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Impaled Nazarene - "Manifest" (CD)

Impaled Nazarene - "Manifest" CD cover image

"Manifest" track listing:

1. Intro: Greater Wrath (1:21)
2. The Antichrist Files (1:23)
3. Mushroom Truth (3:39)
4. You Don't Rock Hard (2:14)
5. Pathogen (3:04)
6. Pandemia (1:58)
7. The Calling (3:56)
8. Funeral for Despicable Pigs (3:33)
9. Planet Nazarene (3:51)
10. Blueprint for Your Culture's Apocalypse (2:49)
11. Goat Justice (2:29)
12. Die Insane (3:55)
13. Original Pig Rig (3:42)
14. Suicide Song (3:26)
15. When Violence Commands the Day (3:34)
16. Dead Return (5:34)

Reviewed by on April 25, 2008

"Most fans will find the most recent release, 'Manifest,' a complete package, from the flippant goat songs to the tremolo picking black metal beats to the distorted crust punk anthems of nuclear war."

For the unfamiliar, Impaled Nazarene as a black metal act is much more easily described as a less chaotic Mayhem than attempting to align them with the more symphonic, epic work characteristic of Immortal and Satyricon. They also bring a heavily punk-influenced style into their brand of black metal.

Most fans will find the most recent release, “Manifest,” a complete package, from the flippant goat songs to the tremolo picking black metal beats to the distorted crust punk anthems of nuclear war.

The group ushered in the new millennium by truly uniting behind the sound they put forth in “Absence of War Does Not Mean Peace.” Newly powered vocals in conjunction with the speed of instrumentation produced an interesting fusion sound, much more heavily inclined towards metal. This 2007 release is honestly just much more solid metal than Impaled Nazarene has been putting forth for some time. They’ve left behind the low-fidelity sound that they emerged with as the second wave of black metal came to the fore in Norway, and to a lesser extent, in Sweden and Finland.

War and Satanism are still prevalent themes in “Manifest,” and many of the songs take an apocalyptic nature, discussing propaganda and western civilization, as well as torture. Pro-Finnish and sex-related material are both mysteriously absent. Anti-communism remains a common topic, however, and “Goat Justice,” the necessary goat track on the album, contains the phrase, “Pinko heads will roll,” humorously enough. So never fear, die-hard fans! The humor hasn’t gone anywhere, in spite of the fact that Impaled Nazarene seems to be taking their metal a bit more seriously.

When listening to Impaled Nazarene’s older releases for comparison, the “togetherness” of “Manifest” is what mainly comes through. It’s nice to hear a strong classical black metal thread weaving through the entire album, and there are manifold opportunities for thrashers to find a catchy riff to satisfy themselves. Kudos are owed to guitarists Tomi Ullgren and Jarno Anttila, as well, who offer increasingly intricate solos like they’re nothing.

“The Antichrist Files” kick-starts the album on a black note, with Mika Luttinen commanding his legions to pledge allegiance to Satan. “The Mushroom Truth” is a fast-paced pondering on Armageddon and war, which simultaneously stays in line with Impaled Nazarene’s interests but offers better-crafted lyrics.

“You Don’t Rock Hard” takes an anti-poser stance and is succeeded by more songs with simplistic stylings like “Pathogen,” but unlike what many punk acts put forth, the vocals remain spot-on, even if “die, fucking die” merely echoes “Let’s Fucking Die” off “Suomi Finland Perkele,” which borrowed heavily from punk rock, based on the singer’s intonation to the repetitive guitar chords.

In an interesting transition, these typical punk-rooted songs are soon to give way to some true metal beats.

“The Calling” features some rapidly shredding guitars, a welcome switch from the terse songs that precede it. This is a great track, featuring solid, shrieking black metal vocals set to a very fast-paced tempo.

Impaled Nazarene keeps you guessing as they follow this up with the darker “Funeral for Despicable Pigs,” where everything gets dropped lower and the drums rattle satisfyingly in the background. Creepy organ music rounds off the song to reinforce the atmosphere of a funeral, calling up an Ajattara approach to heavy, symphonic work.

“Planet Nazarene” assumes the most traditional, chaotic black metal sound that they’ve put forth thus far, succeeded by Carpathian Forest-style infectious riffing on “Blueprint For Your Culture’s Apocalypse." “Die Insane” is a hard, angry black metal anthem, saturated with Reima Kellokoski’s killer double bass drumming and vocals of the most evil nature Luttinen can summon forth.

“Original Pig Rig” returns to the realm of the strange and comical, but doesn’t sacrifice the musicianship in the process. Yet by “Suicide Song,” things are getting a bit cyclical, particularly for a band known for the brevity of its songs and albums. However, “Dead Return” snarls its way to a sinister conclusion.

Overall, it seems that Impaled Nazarene is managing to enhance its prowess while retaining its earlier influences. On the other hand, without a noticeable shift in direction, “Manifest” tends to echo the previous albums at times. Perhaps they’re simply following the “Suomi Finland Perkele” recipe for success: versatility. By exploring several musical genres in a single album, playing pensive, blacker melodies only to follow them up with hard, driving punk beats – this is what makes Impaled Nazarene stand out from the horde of black metallers.

Highs: Versatile, ever-changing sound pulled from influences ranging from crust punk to pure black metal

Lows: The album is a bit long and songs can gain an air of redundancy, especially when compared to earlier releases

Bottom line: Bridging the gap between black metal and old-school punk, this album is an interesting mix of sound, but rather characteristic of Impaled Nazarene's previous work.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)