Review Summary: "Manipulator" plays like an avocado filled with chocolate; ugh at first, but has a delicious chocolate-y guitar center.Manipulator
is nothing more than a stop-gap for the Ghostship
album for fans of the Fall of Troy. Lets be perfectly honest; while people were happy a brand new Fall of Troy album was coming, what drew far more interest and yearning was the announcement of a real Ghostship
album. Maybe its just me taking all that into context, but while Manipulator
is not at all the album Doppelganger
was, it is at least a solid release.
Gone is all the uber slick production Thomas Erak (guitarist/singer) and the boys enjoyed on the previous record. Its back to the old style of their original, with the guitar vastly overpowering everything but Erak’s voice in the mix. It’s unfortunate, as Erak has downplayed his playing a bit from the extremely flashy material found on Doppelganger
(at least until halfway through) to more song-friendly riffs and pull-offs. It covers up all the great work Andrew Forsman (drums) and Tim Ward (bass) do.
Oh, but wait a minute, they’re pretty much just there to keep songs together so Erak can go balls to the wall. Which is why the first half of the album is boring; it’s a lot of tight, not-TFoT type of songs. I mean, “Quarter Past” is a decent track in its own right, but when you sound like a bad Claudio Sanchez impersonator trying to sing a Mars Volta song, results may vary. Erak certainly tries his hardest to be a jazzy-post-hardcore singer throughout the album, and even attempts to scat sing on “Caught Up” for just a moment. He unfortunately can’t carry the tune for more then two seconds before obviously realizing he just made 12 people have colon cancer.
The first six or so tracks are boring. No doubt about it, they are snoozers, especially if you aren’t already a huge fan (I happen to like them, but eh). Once “Sledgehammer” kicks in, and once again Erak starts to rip your face off with Hot Cross-esque riffing, you immediately hit a breath of fresh air. It’s back the trademark of okay vocals, fun naïve lyrics, neat drum and bass fills, and mother***ingasspwnagerapebaby guitar wanking. Sounding like an insane mixture of Casey from Hot Cross, Cedric from the Mars Volta, and Frank Zappa (in a vague, composition sense), Erak once again shows why we all love The Fall of Troy: he makes complicated riffs sound even more ***ing complicated and nasty.
The album is absolutely nothing new (at least, what is good of it isn’t). By far and away, “Ex-Creations” has taken its rightful place as the best Fall of Troy song, and both “Sledgehammer” and “A Man. A Plan. A Canal. Panama” are amazing songs. Even those songs included though, its more of the same prog wankery, nonsensical, catchy post-hardcore they’ve always made. Except with even crazier guitar leads, and even more annoying vocals. Despite the repetitiveness of the disc, its more than a good holding-stone for fans until the Ghostship
album arises sometime near the end of the year, or (please god no) beginning of next.
First half of the record: 2.75
Second half of the record: 4
Thomas Erak’s hotness: 8.5
Final rating: 3.5