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Transiency - "Manqualm" (CD)

Transiency - "Manqualm" CD cover image

"Manqualm" track listing:

1. Manqualm (intro) (1:50)
2. The fatal godsend (5:31)
3. Circle of the flagellants (4:21)
4. Plague spreaders (5:20)
5. The alchemist (4:09)

Reviewed by on March 31, 2009

"The middle of the road approach really characterizes everything Transiency does here, maintaining just enough effort to keep going without ever reaching for greatness."

The members of the Italian death metal band Transiency spent a whopping six years pouring their hearts and souls into their 21 minute debut album “Manqualm,” which chronicles the history of the notorious Black Death plague. Not many bands can boast a development process nearly that long, so it wouldn’t at all be out of line to expect an absolute masterpiece of extreme metal the likes of which the musical world has never heard before. Unfortunately Transiency has fallen horribly short of that goal, producing a thoroughly bland release that just barely reaches mediocrity.

The title opening track is a promising piano arrangement with a heavy gothic atmosphere that prepares the listener for some sort of symphonic metal hybrid that never comes. After the opener there is never another single piano note, or any other type of non-metal instrument, heard for the remainder of the disc’s run time. When the entire album has been played through the first time the instrumental feels especially tacked on and completely pointless during subsequent listens, as it serves no purpose whatsoever and has no connection to how the rest of the music is played.

Once the actual death metal starts the disappointment doesn’t require repeated spins of the CD to fully sink in. Transiency’s style of vocals are the reason why that dreaded phrase “cookie monster vocals” even exists, as these growls are dull and completely lacking in any amount of range or power. There is a slight liquid filter applied to some of the vocals on the second track “The Fatal Godsend,” but the effect is so slight it won’t even be noticed the first time around.

Much like the vocals, the songs themselves don’t have much going on to keep one’s attention or even distinguish one track from another. It really shouldn’t be possible for an album that is less than half an hour long to have any sort of repetition at all, but somehow “Manqualm” has managed it.

There are a few aspects of the music that prevent the album from being actively terrible and immediately destined for the garbage can, however. The guitar work through the songs is solid, if a bit slow and meandering for a death metal album. They don’t ever get slow enough to appeal to the doom or drone fans, and aren’t tuned down low enough anyway, nor do they ever get fast enough to make anyone want to go on a head banging spree. The middle of the road approach really characterizes everything Transiency does here, maintaining just enough effort to keep going without ever reaching for greatness. The bass follows the same style pretty closely, although the band should be given credit for the fact that the bass is even audible.

“Manqualm” is an album that can probably be passed over by anyone who has heard even a single death metal album in the last ten years, although some fans of mid-paced metal might find something to enjoy. These musicians aren’t particularly bad at what they do, but with dozens of bands out there who play this exact same style so much better, it seems pointless to settle for a version that only lands somewhere between sub-par and acceptable.

Highs: Nice piano intro, a few interesting guitar riffs

Lows: Boring vocals, mostly plodding mid-paced guitars, nothing that hasn't been heard before

Bottom line: Run of the mill mid-paced death metal with nothing to offer that other bands haven't done better

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 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)