Sunday, April 15, 2012

Odz Manouk- Odz Manouk(2010)

Odz Manouk- Odz Manouk

Twisted and raw, brimming with dissonance and shrouded in the mist, Odz Manouk reaches out to you from the ethereal and grabs you by the throat, forcing you to endure the chill of it's icy grip before twisting your neck and letting Death come for the remains. Wicked spirits accompany this song of demonic indoctrination, pulling themselves from the rotted sound waves and polluting the air with the memories of the dead. Odz Manouk beautifully channel the Old Spirits of Norwegian Second Wave Black Metal, but also display musical competence and an assimilation of the modern in their musty Black Metal sound. Fearless, atmospheric songwriting beautifully intertwines with the classic grimm aesthetic to form beautiful, skin-peeling storms of wrath. Simply put, Odz Manouk is as important of a Black Metal album to come from the US in a long, long time.

Everything about Odz Manouk is nothing short of perfect, from the songwriting to the production to the individual musical performances. Menacing and raw, the production of Odz Manouk is filthy with static and grime, but also even enough for every instrument to have a say in the song. The guitars frequently experiment with dissonant leads, which coupled with a perfectly distant and reverb drenched guitar tone, leads to some the creepiest atmospheres in Black Metal. I also adore the vocals and bass sound: the former choked with pus and malice, the latter pulsating and burrowing through the compositions like a worm digging eagerly downward toward an exposed corpse. Odz Manouk perfectly captures the feel and sound of Black Metal at it's most pure and excruciating.

Odz Manouk is also a beautifully written album, which perfectly mixes Mayhem, Horna and early Deathspell Omega into whirling abysses of hatred: "The Indisciplinarian" features a meaty main riff which brings to mind Burzum, sandwiching it between extended sections of atmospheric dissonance and raw screeching. "I Will Crush to Marrow This Crow of Ill" begins in a burst of Mayhem like mid-paced intensity, but slowly and surely devolves into a frost-bitten elegy of blades that turns the very air into a sea of ripping knives. The guitar work on Odz Manouk makes heavy use of repetition, but is unafraid to throw in dissonant or even melodic leads, like the distant, foggy whispers on "Mechanics of a Nightmare." All with the intent of creating a dark and foreboding sense of dread, a feeling of hopelessness before the void... and Odz Manouk captures that essence of darkness perfectly.

What perhaps is most impressive about Odz Manouk, aside from the veritable perfection of the sound and the musicianship, is the way everything looks and feels appropriate without ever being stale of generic. Odz Manouk is not a purely original album by any stretch, but it does as much as needed to feel unique. There is a definite creative vision and mission behind the tracks on Odz Manouk, outside of the popular "we want to sound like X band" that is far too widespread and overbearing in Extreme Metal today. It's easy to list the influences on Odz Manouk, but it never feels like the album is leaning on those influences and the fact that you really like those influences to use as a crutch; Odz Manouk stands on it's own.

American Black Metal is seeing a surge of amazingly talented young acts, but Odz Manouk might very well stand above almost all of them. High praise, but I struggle to find a more impressive example of both creativity and reverence than Odz Manouk. The dark arts and incantations this California one-piece wields are powerful indeed. Consider me bound and tethered to Odz Manouk's ancient crypt for all time... far worse curses exist among the shadows.

Rating: 10/10

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