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Manfrea – Noire Award winner

Manfrea
Noire
by Andrew Graham at 26 October 2021, 10:20 AM

Thoughtful Moscow-based metallers MANFREA dish out their sophomore album to the benefit of the reflective listener. Following something of a rebranding in 2016, INNOVATION WRAITH emerged as MANFREA and released their debut album Protorenaissance the same year. Since then, their sound has evolved to become an interesting blend of metalcore, post-metal and post-black elements.

Album opener “Prelude” sets the tone for the album well. We have crushing guitars, precision drumming, and growled, ethereal vocals all convey a moody and introspective tone. This carries on into “Rituals”, with more than a passing resemblance to late-IN FLAMES noticeable to the keen ear. Dual male and female vocals complement each other beautifully against a backdrop of emotive guitar melodies and chords. It’s a complex and richly layered formula and it really works. “Obsession” is a slow and mournful requiem backed up with subtle synths that add to the, almost, Blackened mood. It’s not Blackgaze but there’s that kind of vibe going on.

“Noire” ups the speed and intensity of emotion, with lines like “Let me be the darkest part of you, Let me bear the weight of your sins”. This is dark stuff indeed and it kicks ass! Synths and multiple layers of vocals create a densely layered canvass of complex emotional outlet. “The Velvet” continues in this vein, with a little more dissonance of that Black flavour right down to the blast beats towards the end of the track. It’s a truly fascinating mix of styles that boldly disregards genre boundaries and conventions, much to their benefit. “Superbia” is an instrumental track that gives the guys some freedom to experiment and demonstrate some flair, of which there is plenty on display.

“Quit” opens like another late, borderline-poppy IN FLAMES anthem. The influences of Black Metal and Melodeath are definitely there but not so much core to the music as being orbited by the band as they occasionally gesture in their direction. It’s minimal and doesn’t lean too heavily on them, as MANFREA certainly have enough of a unique sound in their own right to stand up on. “Roses” possesses a definite sense of closure, that ‘final boss’ mood I have referred to in the past. Emotions run high, which is clear in the vocals in particular – screams and growls predominate. We finish with a brief instrumental track, “Her Dusk”, which resonates with strings, harp and piano notes before fading into silence.

This album is, quite simply, brilliant! It is clever, thoughtful and intelligently constructed. Not simply picking and choosing from the genres I’ve mentioned but rather reflectively orbiting them and, ultimately, using them to good effect in a melting pot of styles that truly possesses its own sound. If we have music of this calibre to look forward to from this band then they may well take on an increasingly large space in my music collection. These guys are a must for anybody who likes their metal thoughtful, emotive and impactful.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Prelude
2. Rituals
3. Obsession
4. Noire
5. The Velvet
6. Superbia
7. Quit
8. Roses
9. Her Dusk
Lineup:
Christian Noir – Vocals, Programming
Anastasia Bilaya – Vocals
Paul Lavrinenko – Guitar
Al Volodin – Guitar
Alexander Samoylov – Bass
Igor “Butz” Batsov – Drum Programming
Tom Byrne – Vocals (guest, track 4)
Record Label: Independent
     


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