Review Summary: The best Deadlock album to date. Powerful dual vocals meet Scandinavian melodic death metal minus the orchestration and gothic atmosphere of Wolves.
Vegan, straight-edge, chick fronted, melodic death metal from Germany complete with soaring orchestration and a rapid fire dual vocal approach. This description can only mean one thing. Deadlock. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator II, Deadlock is with a vengeance. Although the band is fresh off of releasing an album in the previous year, Deadlock remain poised to maintain relevance in the metal community as the only vegan, straight-edge, chick fronted, German, melodic death metal band in the world. A brief one year hiatus aside, Deadlock have returned in late 2008 delivering one of the years catchiest metal records of the year in Manifesto. This album will have you banging heads, and crooning along with your bro in a rather un-manly embrace.
One year ago, the previous record “Wolves” had been released and although generally a success story, it was bogged down by a few factors that hurt it in the long run. Namely the songwriting and overly slick production come into play. Wolves had several stand out tracks including the stunning “Code Of Honor’ but suffered from “safe songwriting syndrome.” The band didn’t really mix anything up, instead, relying on the same old heavy verse to a booming clean chorus closing with a blazing solo for desert. Don’t get me wrong, the techno break/ Rapidash solo was incredible but these kind of moments were to far and between. And when the band decided to try something new, like the rock oriented “Dark Cell” and the uninspiring ballad ‘To Where the Skies Are Blue”, they didn’t really succeed. Fortunately, all of this and more has been corrected and improved on.
So as I blast Manifesto for the first time, the intro of Moribund Choir” makes away. One thing is certain, the techno is back. Opening up with a beat similar to Mortal Combat, I begin to change into my Sub-Zero gear. I was then rudely interrupted before I finished by the brutish opening of “Martyr Of Science. The song featured a heavy verse, and a clean chorus, and even a solo at the end, but I knew something was up. Everything sounds so much more fresh than Wolves. Sabine’s voice was incredible, easily the best performance that I’ve ever heard from her to this point. Her voice was also less nasally and processed than before, letting her natural talent shine to the forefront. Vocal patterns have improved significantly between Joe and Sabinbe minus a few awkward moments from the harsh vocalist. The interplay between the duo is much more balanced and comfortable than Wolves, resulting in a fresher album and several standouts. Growling is as powerful now as on previous records. Joe is at his finest when he utilizes the deep and guttural technique. When he opts for a higher strain, he is not as effective but thankfully he doesn’t stray there too often. As for the guitars, Scandinavian melodic death metal is the name of the game. Quick and furious riffing meld with technically proficient solos and spacey synthesizers. Solos have been restrained slightly, which is actually a benefit because Gert and Sebastian could have passed off as Herman Li and Sam Totman on Wolves. This way the solos are more memorable and less annoying. They form a solid rhythm foundation with bass player Thomas’s purring finger work. Tobias is a solid drummer alternating through thundering blast beats, standard double bass, and quick fills. Pretty basic formula but efficient nonetheless.
As I said before about songwriting, Deadlock have improved significantly while throwing in a few surprises along the way. Lyrically, Deadlock still retain a militant P.E.T.A stance that would make even Earth Crisis blush. They promote straight-edge and vegan pride like it’s going out of style. Fortunately, this time the lyrics hold more meaning, especially on “Seal Slayer” when the band explore the atrocities of seal clubbing. One of those surprises that I would like to bring up was the invitation to a famous ex Scar Symmetry singer. Christian Alvestam appears on the track “Dying Breed” and after a tumultuous opening, it really begins to pick up steam. The transition from Sabine to Christian is marvelous one, I just wish that he sung on a better track instead. Another curve ball was thrown in “Fire At Will” with it’s extravagant saxophone solo. Saxophone? Yeah, and it rules too. That’s hardly the last thing to pop out and scare the listener. My favorite moment occurs during Death Race. Typical blistering Deadlock for the first few moments. In the middle of the song, it breaks into an eerie silence before erupting into a delayed solo. Well, as soon as I thought the song was over, hip hop beats replace the guitars, and a slew of rappers take over the mic from Sabine and Joe. As you imagine, all the loyalists might get their panties in bunch and complain on you tube. I actually like it. The rapping is great, the beat is surprisingly catchy, and the lyrics while leaning on the cheesier side of things, are quite informative.
All in all, Deadlock have found their creative niche with Manifesto. I’ve already started reading things about this new album in magazines so it’s only a matter of time before these guys get bigger in the metal scene. My only complaints to this album would be the unnecessary f-bombs and somewhat disappointment of “Dying Breed.” I don’t really see why Deadlock feel the need to curse, although not too excessive, the f-bombs are still there and tackier than Aborym at a Christmas party. As for Dying Breed, I feel the song could have been so much more but I guess I’ll just settle for the excellent second half of the song. Fans of melodic death metal, Paramore with solos, Earth Crisis gone Arch Enemy should get on this. This is in my opinion the greatest album that Deadlock has produced. So far anyways.
1.Altruism: Cello and piano filled ballad featuring great vocals from Sabine.
2.Martyr To Science: A storming mid-tempo metal track with an incredible chorus and bridge.
3.Temple Of Love: A softer, middle eastern influenced song embracing rock more than metal. A perfect overdub to Dark Cell.