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Manzer - Beyond The Iron Portal

Beyond The Iron Portal
by Andrew Sifari at 30 September 2016, 10:13 AM

For all the newfangled sounds and current bands I’ve been getting into as of late, I’m always going to be an old-school kind of guy at heart. It’s as much a vibe-thing as it is anything to do with songwriting or production. So, when I had my first chance to listen to “Beyond The Iron Portal,” the newest release by France’s MANZER, I couldn’t help but smile at the band’s unabashedly retro style. A prolific recording band since their inception in 2008, the group has been featured on a number of splits, live albums and EP’s, though “Beyond…” marks just their second full-length offering.

Black, Thrash, and traditional Heavy Metal collide as the trio pummel their way through the battlefields of imagination their songs create. There is a clear love for all of the tropes that classic Heavy Metal, especially NWOBHM, embodies, from the “brutal” cover art to the song titles themselves, and that is just a prologue to the actual music. The band lay the melodies on thick from the start with the instrumental “Open The Portal,” and then step it up a notch further as “Torment of the Strix” kicks off with even more wailing, electrified lead work before seamlessly transitioning to a rougher, yet still cohesive variation of the main melody, backed by furious riffing and eardrum-battering drums.

The overall effect can be likened to some weird, bastard child of VENOM and “Show No Mercy”-era SLAYER…and it’s really quite a lot of fun. You get the harsh, Cronos-like growls along with the delightful Tom Araya highs (think of the opening to “Angel Of Death”). There may not be a lot to joke about as far as horrible, irradiated death goes, but songs like the frenetic “Nuclear Necropolis” and “Veisalgia Damnation” are too upbeat and energetic to take too seriously, let alone tracks like the wonderfully-named “Semen Goddess” (!). While the songs themselves are straightforward structure-wise, MANZER never feel like they’re forcing themselves to sound like a band that wandered out of a mystic portal from the faraway time of 1985.

Some people might prefer more music that’s heavier in spirit as well as instrumentation (shout-out to you harsh noise-lovers out there), but “Beyond The Iron Portal” is definitely worth a listen for those who enjoy fast-paced, high-spirited music that also pulls no punches in the heaviness department.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8


3 Star Rating

1. Open the Portal
2. Torment of the Strix
3. Veisalgia Damnation
4. Prepare Your Soul To Die
5. 890
6. Maetre e Cunpagnun
7. Nuclear Necropolis
8. Semen Goddess
9. Beyond the Iron Portal
10. Hard Metal Jackhammer
Fëarann – Bass, vocals (backing)
Shaxul – Drums, vocals
Hylde – Guitars
Record Label: Armée de la Mort Records


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Edited 07 February 2023

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