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So I'd been waiting three albums already for Naer Mataron, a band who cultivate some measure of respect in the Euro underground, to knock me on my sorry ass. Up from the Ashes was a solid start, but both of its successors offered little more than the tedious and frankly commonplace Norse-style scathing rhythms that have already been foisted to death upon the medium's legions of admirers. Not that the style is necessarily unwelcome, but bands in this niche really need to bring the strong riffing and distinctive level of composition at least to the level of their forebears, and it hadn't seemed that the Greeks were up to the task. With Discipline Manifesto, the underwhelming streak continues, but not without pounding a nails into the listener's wrists.
This is probably the most forceful and potent of the band's albums, if not a far cry beyond River at Dash Scalding or Skotos Aenaon in overall style. The blasting, predictable tremolo picking and hoarser than usual black rasping all return for another round, but I feel that the band paces the material better, especially in longer tracks like "Extreme Unction", with the Immortal-like riffing flow at its climax; or "Last Man Against Time", which has a lot of resonance through the buzzing layers of the guitar and cruel streams of dissonance. Another standout: "Blast Furnace", in which the swerving bridge bass meshes quite well with the churning melodic apex of its bridge. In general, the songwriting is stronger and mildly more varied than River at Dash Scalding, and sparse elements like cleaner vocals ("Land of Dreams") make it a fairy rounded experience.
Unfortunately, while functional for the form, there are still many moments of tedious blasting and riffs that entirely fail to stick, and so it's not about to raise Naer Mataron from the mire of samey sounding bands the world-wide. If you seek the sincere, slicing aggression of your Norse and Swedish backlogs (Marduk, Immortal, Satyricon, Burzum, Emperor), with no other deviation or distinction, then Discipline Manifesto is admittedly nothing to scoff at. But I always have this wrenching feeling in my gut that these Hellenic veterans have a lot more in them than what we're getting on the actual albums. A bit more focus on the craft of the riffing, a few more exciting transitions and tempos being explored, and these guys could easily break my neck and elevate themselves upon the world stage of sadism. Discipline Manifesto gets the job done, but with absolutely no room to spare.
Here they are, Naer Mataron with the last album ‘Discipline Manifesto’. I have not listened to any other album by Naer Mataron so I cannot do any comparison or make any reference. Let’s begin saying that I am a real black-metal addicted and I listen to lots of it, so some kind of attitude in a black metal album can be assumed for me while for another listener, who is less into black metal than me, the same may be a surprise. I first came to know of Naer Mataron because I am a huge fan of Nordvargr (MZ.412, Toroidh, Folkstorm, etc.), who plays the keyboards here. Keyboards which I can’t really say having a great role in this album; the most of the music here is a ferocious and tough bunch of long and fast black metal tracks, without any concession made to the melody.
We have many typical black metal riffs with a furious, although maybe sometime random drumming. The first track for example, “Extreme unction” consist in nine minutes of fast violent black metal, without any distinctive sign, exception made for some (not so good) passages in the drumming. The first real presence of Nordvargr’s electronic effects is the third track, which is in fact a brief introduction to the next song, made with some low ambient effects, some ‘evil’ talking, and nothing more. This (not so much) atmospheric ‘pause’ lasts only three minutes, then we have “Arrival of the Caesar”, maybe the most interesting track of the album, with a good riffing and somewhat ‘epic’ effect of echo in the singing. This is a good song, beginning with a slow-paced rhytm, with long pauses in the singing which enhance a sense of waiting and arrival of the commander. Then the song fastenes, and it all returns tough and violent, also a little monotonous perhaps. Monotony which is broken in some episodes like “The day is breaking” with its sad slow beginning, with a depressed riff which grows in sadness as the rhytm fastenes. This is another very enjoyable song with a sad beginning and a slight of epic touch in the finale.
The last three tracks on this album aren’t much different from the first six. We have others brief seconds of ‘dark ambient’ introductions, as in “The last loyal”, and a lot of ultra-speed black metal stuff. The first album that came in my mind when I first listened to this one was Setherial’s “Hell eternal” (which I liked much less anyway): very fast and furious non-melodic black metal, but without great moments or details of brilliance, only a great general monotony.
The difference here, which makes me like this one a little more, is that we have a band that can create some sense of epic (“Arrival of the Caesar”, the clean talking and singing on “Land of dreams”) or sadness (the beginning of “The day is breaking”), while technically Setherial are better – the bass here is unconsistent and the drumming is sometimes incoherent. Anyway this is not the kind of album I would keep listening on and on. It is very angered and violent, but this kind of black metal can easily become boring. I can actually save three or four better tracks and a few other moments (some epic riffs in the middle of “Last man against time”) from this album, but then I don’t think I will listen to them very often. There are bands who can do this better and there are bands who can add something more to this kind of attitude without ‘betraying’ it.