Man Must Die
...Start Killing

Scotland. Home of the Haggis, and……. erm, I dunno, Scottish people? Who would have thought that one of the best death metal albums of 2004 would have risen from the craggy depths of Dumbarton? And while Mithras could certainly lay claim to being the UK’s saviors of extreme metal, Man Must Die have a far more accessible and memorable effort that combines the best of Kataklysm and Brutality.

Expertly melding harmony and savagery, Man Must Die deliver some death metal of epic proportions that tears and rends, but some superb melodies surface that often defy brutal death metal’s usually restrictive paradigms. The Brutality comparison comes from Alan McFarland’s (studio enhanced nonetheless) creative guitar work that resembles the almost classical structures of Screams of Anguish, while vocalist Joe McGlynn combines the deep yet almost eligible roar of Scott Reigel (Brutality) and the high end screams of Maurizio Iacono (Kataklysm). The Kataklysm “vibe” is further enhanced by the production; a clean cut, heavy sound rendered by J-F Degenais (Kataklysm). The production is huge, even if it does sound a little too canned, (almost the opposite of Mithras) especially the drums of John Lee, but its better than being under produced.

But the main draw of MMD is their songwriting, for a debut album, few new bands can match what is to these ears, perfect death metal; pummeling blastbeats, massive slow sections, and a curt sense of harmony that give the album a level of memorability that most brutal acts ignore for the sake of savagery. Each of the 9 songs packs a punch on all cylinders. From the simply stunning melodic bridge during “Severe Facial Reconstruction”, to the gargantuan breakdowns of “All Shall Perish”, “Eradicate the Weak” and “Scumkiller”, the sense of pace and timing is similar to Suffocation’s peak, but with more melody and less obtrusive technicality. The lumbering slower sections have that same kind or orchestrated feel heard on Brutality’s “Crushed” or “Septicemic Plague”, that’s to say they’re are generally more epic and grandiose than simple slowed down chuggery. The songs are what I call, “complete”, insomuch they all have requisite satisfaction factor for multiple listens. In fact, I hate to brag, but I get so much metal across my desk, I hardly get time to enjoy an album because I want to, instead having to move onto the next wave of mediocrity for review. …Start Killing is the first death metal of 2004 I’ve listened to far beyond review purposes, due to its sheer enjoyment factor.

Man Must Die were smart to include 2 of the standout tracks from their demo, as the superb “Severe Facial Reconstruction” and “Kingdom Shall Fall” make re-worked appearances, and with a more polished sound, deliver some killer moments. The newer tracks are no slouches, especially “War on Creation”, with its absolutely huge closing segment, and the Kataklysm-like album closer “Faint Figure in Black”, which displays MMD’s grasp on melody without wimping out or glossing over their staunch death metal aesthetic with too much harmony. Also like Kataklysm, Man Must Die know how to close out an album, as the song puts a sobering end-note to a pretty non-stop throttling album.

Man Must Die have put forth a debut album that puts many (ahem, US) veteran acts to shame with its melodic carnage, polished songwriting and overall tenacity mixed surprisingly accessibility. The UK has needed an album of this quality for a while now, and … Start Killing may have the international metal scene taking a wee bit o’ notice

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 4th, 2004


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