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Hidden Gem - 79%

ToeMentor, August 9th, 2014

Out of the Old Dominion comes a new breed of darkness, and its name is Salvaticus. Its manifestation: Hidden Manna. Salvaticus are a fairly recent band but this does not hinder the fact that they produce some great black metal, and without the presence of any demos. It is by far one of the better debuts I have heard at the time of writing this here review. (At least within the past year.)

The album starts off with "Breeding Ground", which starts out with a simple fare intro and molds into some solid and almost-melodic riffing, flowing into some slower brooding instrumental passages where both guitarists complement each other superbly. This format is essentially Salvaticus' modus operandi at the moment as all other tracks follow suit. However, this does shine on "Further", where at one such slower passage you can hear clearly both guitarists each playing a different lead, but without it sounding muddled and drowned. I do feel that the tone of the guitars could be perhaps more on the more raw side of the scale, but it doesn't provide to be too detrimental to the overall product.

Nonetheless, the album is not entirely spotless. The production was not utterly terrible but it is what you would expect from an independent mixing. It's not bad, but I feel that it's not quite complete, and that it's almost trying to emulate and copycat those bands of the second wave. Now, I'm fairly sure I'm not going deaf yet, but I failed to get much recognition of the bass through my audio set, except in certain instances during yet again, those slower passages. The most outstanding of such was near the latter minutes of "A Vulture's Feathers" where it is punchy.

"Dark Rift" is the track that we wait the least for the blistering vocals of Alex come into play, for they are seriously menacing and have a slight post-hardcore-tinge to it. Sharp, shrieking, and filled with dread. There is an instance in Further near the end of one of the aforementioned slower passages where it seems as if there is a complete feeling of dread and pain, and it balances nicely. It is not often on anymore that I praise the drumming in an album the highest rated element, but today that is one of those cases. The drummer provides excellent execution all around the board, - or is that the set? - and fills all requirements needed.

As a whole Hidden Manna has more pros in adjacent to its cons and I feel that it would be great for those perhaps newer to the genre, as it manages to purvey the rawness of its predecessors, but manages to convey a sense of atmospheric awareness. This album is pretty perfect for those who are into the likes of Young and in the Way, Carpathian Forest, and Winterfylleth. Maybe one day Salvaticus will have the same sort of essence as the latter.