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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.