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Manoluc – Asa Nisi Masa

Asa Nisi Masa
by Matt Bozenda at 02 April 2021, 11:02 AM

It seems to be a rule in the music business that the second album is always a problem child. However, if one takes a critical lens to the theory, they will find that plenty of bands made it through to number three under relatively smooth sailing. The rules of the business are especially made mock by the wanton blending of genres: “F- off, record executives, this Black Metal album has a bouzouki player on it!”

Somewhere at the intersection of Technical Death and Thrash, where there are no stop signs, there comes, via Italy’s north, MANOLUC with their new album, "Asa Nisi Masa". The successor to 2016’s "Carcosa", this record quite honestly speaks for itself, because there is no compass pointing out this band’s roots. What you hear is what you get, and there’s nothing else to say about that.

Track one, "Rapace", lays a foundation as solid as Rome itself, injecting just enough of a Mediterrannean taste to the song’s overall cadence that it creates a different sort of atmosphere than is gained from the Tech Death/Thrash sound they started with. "Solstizio" starts with a sampling from the Fellini film from which the album is named, and continues with the general rhythm of the song before it but adds a distinct intensity while also prolonging the experience.

"Heliopolis" begins with an unsettling Latin mass but gets very comfortable as it progresses, ending almost anonymously until "Cemento Armato" backmasks onto the scene. Here the Thrash aspect of their sound makes a more pronounced appearance, trading off with the other parts for short turns, which is less true of "La Pittima", where they are given equal time.

"Il Bosco Senza Sentieri" literally translates as “The Forest Without Paths”, and the second part certainly seems true in this uncharacteristically chaotic track, interspersed with more sampled movie audio towards the end. "Il Letto Di Procuste" ramps up the heaviness, rising to the brutality of its namesake.

The shortest and longest songs of the album come together to finish it off. First, "Madre Dell’Oscurita" manages to pack a lot of movement into not quite three-forty, and wouldn’t be a bad choice for the second single, not to mention the All-2021 playlist. Finally, "Deriva" combines much of what has been heard before, starting with a beautiful mandolin intro, throwing in a lot of movie sampling, setting the tone with Tech Death and occasionally adding Thrash gas to the fire before gently fading out.

All in all, "Asa Nisi Masa" is far from Italian gibberish. Enclosed are nine tracks at right about forty-five minutes which does not entirely overstay its welcome. There are some regrettable moments, some breaks which sometimes last half a note too long or too late, but they don’t completely undo the good work that went into the rest of the song.

Still, MANOLUC has avoided the major pratfalls of the ‘second album’, coming in with a good follow-up which, while not perfect, is still a decent entry to the young realm of Technical Death/Thrash. It’s hard to pin down where this band is coming from, stylistically speaking, so the possibilities for album three are really endless. If they can keep the ball rolling, MANOLUC has a real chance to deliver big.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Rapace
2. Solstizio
3. Heliopolis
4. Cemento Armato
5. La Pittima
6. Il Bosco Senza Sentieri
7. Il Letto Di Procuste
8. Madre Dell’Oscurita
9. Deriva
Giulio Cucchiaro – Bass
Nicola Revelant – Drums
Alessandro Attori – Guitars
Tommaso Napolitano – Vocals
Record Label: Broken Bones Records and Promotions


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