Man Must Die

No Tolerance For Imperfection

Written by: AP on 17/08/2009 13:39:33

Little did you know that Scotland also has an extreme music scene. One of its proudest products is a four-piece known quite bluntly as Man Must Die, who practice technical death metal with an edge other like acts should take note of. Convention, conformity, norms and the expected are all foreign concepts for these boys, who have gone out of their way to ensure that my first acquaintance with their music in the form of their latest album, "No Tolerance For Imperfection" (perhaps the title hides some kind of mission statement?), is a surprising and rewarding experience. I am aware that this will be the fourth or fifth deathcore/modern death metal release that I have praised for you this year - which is also surprising given the decaying state of the genre not one year ago - but it seems that at last some progress is occurring in the genre, so bear with me.

It is so refreshing to hear that melody has not been crucified in order to be as brutal as possible. In fact, these Scotsmen manage to out-brutal most of their peers whilst still maintain an edge which consists of outbreaks of soaring melody like something out of an In Flames album. Very similar to what Whitechapel did with their latest album, but what is most striking about Man Must Die is that all this is executed by a single guitarist, Alan McFarland, who deserves tremendous praise for his antics. After all, what Whitechapel can do with three guitarists, Alan pulls off alone - and that's not meant in a condescending way. The solos on "It Comes in Threes" do not sound like they belong in a death metal song, but their execution atop the chugging rhythm is perfect and yet another reminder that Man Must Die have crafted an extraordinary piece of modern death metal here, devoid of the usual clichés and overindulgences, and with an unquenchable thirst for experimentation. Perhaps for this reason alone the mecca of all things experimental, Relapse, took the band in two years ago (and evidently gave them a few pointers, too).

Although the songs do blur into each other somewhat, it's hard not to be impressed with this non-stop aural assault because for the most part this album sounds truly magnificent, and probably the only thing holding it down to imperfection, for which it claims to have no tolerance, is the band's formulaic songwriting methods resulting in few, if any standout tracks. Instead the focus is on the inhuman technical proficiency on display. Granted, it might be difficult to remember why, and which songs were fantastic, but pick any track out of the eleven at random and you are guaranteed one jaw-dropping moment after the other. All the songs are that good (but without out-shadowing each other). I suspect that one of the reasons this album has a tendency to sound a little generic is the drumming, which is obviously very difficult but leaves something to be desired. Too often does Matt Holland opt for pummeling double pedal action, and the occasional creative fills are few and far in between, even though there are countless moments where more distinguished percussion is called for.

What is effectively the only real problem with this album is the song "What I Can't Take Back", which offers three and a half minutes of relaxed instrumental wankery and brings nothing relevant to the table. It sounds downright out of place surrounded by the lightning speed "Dead in the Water" and "Reflections from Within" and should logically have been left out. Right now its only purpose seems to be to break the flow at the most inopportune moment, just as the album is climbing to a crescendo with a trio of the most ambitious stuff it has to offer. Maybe the track has been placed there to emphasize that now the time has come for some progressive structures, and as such it could have been flawless had it been executed in the appropriate manner (such as flowing in and out of the surrounding songs). Nonetheless this album performs well in all the relevant categories and leaves little to be desired. It isn't catchy or accessible, but a somewhat more novel take on a crippled genre. If you like your extreme music riddled with mighty melodies, give this one a spin or two.

Download: Gainsayer, It Comes in Threes, Reflections from Within

For the fans of: Neuraxis, Psycroptic, Whitechapel

Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.08.2009

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