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Guy Mann-Dude - Guy Mann-Dude's Manic Distortion

Guy Mann Dude
Guy Mann-Dude's Manic Distortion
by Mike Peacock at 21 March 2022, 1:30 PM

I remember first seeing and hearing GUY MANN-DUDE back in 1989. I was just getting into Thrash Metal, having felt I had graduated from the usual classic Heavy Metal into the more extreme forms of Metal. One day I was watching my VHS recording of the previous night’s “Headbanger’s Ball” and I see this dude that looked like he was straight out of a CINDERELLA video, but he was playing a version of “Paint it Black,” a very non-Metal song but one that I was intimately familiar with due to my dad’s epic collection of Classic Rock vinyl and tapes. But this version wasn’t classic rock.  It was Thrash, and there were no vocals. I was confused. I rewound it and watched it again. And then again. And yet again. And each time, I was left with the same feeling: I’m not sure whether to like this or hate this. The music was clearly in a genre that I was getting into, but there was something about it that kept me from truly appreciating it.

Fast forward thirty-plus years later, The MANN-DUDE has resurfaced with a remastered and reissued version of 1991’s “Guy Mann-Dude’s Mannic Distortion,” via Heaven and Hell Records. And thirty-plus years later, I still have the same feelings about what I’m hearing.

Heaven and Hell Records has built a reputation on re-releasing classic Metal material, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that they handled this project. I was surprised, however, to learn that the remastering was handled by legendary audio wizard JAMIE KING, who I happen to be extremely familiar with and whose work I am a huge fan of. However, keeping in mind that this is a remaster and not a remix, I was immediately reminded that no amount of mastering wizardry can fix the multitude of problems that are inherent with the source material. Going back and listening to some of the original songs, I can say that Mr. King did manage to add some clarity and punch to the recordings, as well as some consistent output and continuity levels. But that’s where his magic stops, as he did not remix the material. Nor, sadly, did he re-record it.

The challenge in reviewing remasters is that at the end of the day, people still expect an opinion on that actual material. Reviewing the technical steps in the remastering process and its success or failure would be an exercise in futility since remasters really only seek to enhance the overall audio presentation and have no bearing on the content itself. Listeners would still wonder “But is it good?” The real questions are whether or not the remaster was worth doing, if the original content is still relevant (is there still an audience for it), and if the new version sounds so much better than the original that it provides incentive to relive the past. That being said, I personally feel that this album suffers from the same issues it did back in 1991, and only the most diehard fans will appreciate it.

At its core, this album is rooted in thrash and speed metal. In fact, according to the EPK, MANN-DUDE himself wrote “A ‘re-issue’ is a sign of a classic. And from day one when I wrote the first riff, that’s what I intended…to write a classic, to out- metallic Metallica, to out-metallic myself….! A bold statement, but it does illustrate his affinity for the fabled BIG 4 and Bay Area thrash in general. Definite nods to METALLICA, MEGADETH, EXODUS, TESTAMENT, and DARK ANGEL are scattered throughout. There are plenty of heavy, chunky riffs as well as some pretty impressive technical licks and an absolutely insane amount of gain on the guitars. Unfortunately, that gain suffers from excessive buzziness due to the completely scooped EQ, the harshest of “V” shapes with literally no mids. Picture “From Beyond” times 100 and you’d get the idea. Guy’s vocals have a Chuck Billy meets Don Doty vibe, and its actually kind of cool when he gets into a decent rhythm.

And if it would have stopped there, I’d have honestly been ok with it. Tons of bands have started out as being distinctly derivative of their influences and then managed to find their own voice, and even the most famous and successful bands have dealt with sub-par recordings, especially early in their careers. But on top of the demo-quality recordings, what I really take issue with is the intentionality of the decision making.  Not only on how it all sounds, but also some of the experimental decisions that were clearly made to sound innovative and set himself apart from his contemporaries. Says MANN-DUDE: “I felt I came up with some inventive and melodical ideas that hold up 30 years later. I spent much attention to the production of ‘Mannic Distortion,’ carefully taking time to get the sounds I wanted.”

The guitar solos are EXTREMELY loud, and they are eq’d so differently than the rhythm tracks that it’s an absolutely jarring experience. There is no fluidity to the transitions between lead and rhythm. The solos are so loud you can barely hear the backing tracks. On top of that, almost every lead is loaded with tons of effects. There is a particular pitch-shifting effect that has a “nails on the chalkboard” or “dying cat” sonic quality to it, and it is used on EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. I once had a Digitech Whammy pedal and it produced these sounds, so he’s either abusing one of those or his actual tremolo skills are being seriously overused. Actually, it's probably a combination of both. I’ve seen videos of him pounding the tremolo. It  also reminds me of keyboard players that use the pitch shifter, and that’s what it sounds like. So its loud and it’s annoying. And it’s excessive. Extreme examples of this are present in the songs “Faces in the Dark” and “Against the Grain.”

In fact, the entire album is so loaded with effects and weird sounds that at times I simply couldn’t figure out what the goal of the song was. Combine that with a mishmash of styles, bizarre techniques, and random ideas and you’ve got an unidentifiable pile of randomness. Songs often start out really cool then devolve into chaos such as with the bizarre “Blue Liquid Eyes.” And songs like “Enemy” and “Broke Dick Dog” literally had me scratching my head with the lyrical content.

The instrumental tracks actually prove to be the high point. “Frightened by His Own Shadow” has the added bonus of guest work by Steve Lukather. His parts are awesome and easy to pick out, as there’s a noticeable distinction of styles. The resulting track has some early STEVE VAI and JOE SATRIANI overtones that are a welcome departure from the madness. “Gilda” starts off with some really cool acoustic work that showcases some great talent before it dissolves into chunky distortion then back again to cleans. It’s the (arguably) best song on the album, and though it wants desperately to be “Call of Cthulhu,” “Musical Death (A Dirge),” and “Dee” all rolled up into one it’s quite enjoyable and pretty well executed.

As for Jamie King’s part, he was successful in doing wat he was hired to do: make the original recordings sound better. As for the overall success of the reissue, that will of course be dictated by album sales, streams, and other reviews. GUY MANN-DUDE is an immensely talented (if not wildly eclectic) musician, and it’s clear that the resulting product meets his specifications and that he is happy with the outcome. I can’t say I’m a fan of his focus on experimentation, nor do I claim to understand his audio choices. That being said, he has amassed a dedicated cult-like following over the years and those fans will no doubt enjoy this trip back in time.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability:6
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Hand In Hand (Death Walks With Life)
2. Against the Grain
3. Blue Liquid Eyes
4. Broke Dick Dog
5. Faces in the Dark
6. Conformity (No, Not Me!)
7. Enemy
8. Swath of Carnage
9. Let Me Out
10.Gilda
11. No Stone Unturned
12. Frightened by His Own Shadow
13.  Mann-Overboard
Lineup:
Guy Mann-Dude – Guitars/Vocals
Barry Sparks – Bass/Backing Vocals
David Eagle – Drums/Vocals (Lead on Track 7)
Record Label: Heaven and Hell Records
     


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