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Chaos Engine

Most people, at least I do, always mix up the three northern European Baltic states. Going from south to north you have Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Manatark hails from the most northern state situated close to Finland and Russia. Frontman Draconic started up his band in 1998 as a solo project. After releasing one demo and a rather obscure debut album in Estonian language, "Chaos engine" is Draconic’s newest effort, though we can speak of a real full member band now. A certain Benton is handling the low tuned strings and his favourite band is Deicide, uhmmm... But don't get cheesy now, here's the review.

After the intro "The Principle" Manatark kicks in with "Parallels and Parity" and surprised me totally! I know the Baltic States breed some very good black metal bands like Loits, for example. And I also know that the Slovakian label Metal Age Productions got an eye for undiscovered upcoming talent. Manatark is a band which can cast high scores in magazine land. The band's music shows us black metal can be re-invented at these modern days. "Chaos engine" is a fresh release with new and interesting elements WITHOUT losing the touch with the traditional black metal feeling. It's hard to put them in line with other similar bands. Sometimes I hear some Emperor, Darkthrone or Taake influences, but way not enough to label Manatark as a uninspired follow up of these bands. All songs are mid paced and quite much tempo changes keep this product interesting. Manatark combinates threatening and suspicious riffs with very melodic guitar harmonies. Here and there some keyboard lines add an extra atmosphere to the anthems presented. Same for the vocals, Draconic lead screams may lack a bit of power or intensity, but the variation in vocal duties keeps it overall interesting. Spoken word passages and some small hallucinating effects as on "Four Walls" is what I'm talking about. "We Stole Your Death" opens very fast to go further with a nice stereo listening part. One side plays a thrash inspired riff and the other side sounds moody like the old Ulver once did. You see, Manatark can take be rather unexpected turns... In the next song "The Serpent's Tongue" more vocal differences pass by the use of a distortion effect on the screams, though I don't like the death metal drumming when the songs starts. I guess the only negative remark I can give is that the drum sound is very weak. I mean, the bass kicks sound too flat or triggered and the same goes for the case (or snare drum if you want). The general dirty production suits the blackish sound very well, only the drums are a pain in the... ears. But please do focus on the good things written above. The band has played live with Borknagar, had a spot on the famous Norwegian Inferno Festival (along side with Carpathian Forest, Dimmu Borgir, Vintersorg, Windir and many more) did a mini tour with Impaled Nazarene and is just back from a European tour with Mayhem. More people are persuaded by the band qualities.

I'm sure Manatark can grow big in the black metal scene, even when coming from an exotic country as Estonia. "Chaos engine" gives us around half an hour (I'm not counting the intro and the keyboard intermezzo "Crystal") of inspiring blackened extreme metal joy. Especially the first part of the release is of major quality. Now, catch them up and listen to their serpent tongue...

Author: Fiep
Zine: Vampire Magazine

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