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They need smiths, even in the Abyss. - 36%

MacMoney, March 12th, 2007

Is anyone surprised if I say that Manifest of Hate sounds like At The Gates? If you are, you shouldn't be. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if At The Gates were still together and recording, they would sound like this. Anders SJöholm's screehing is a dead ringer for Tomas Lindberg although his vocals are mixed in the back. The verses are made with the same barebones formula as all of Slaughter of the Soul: simplistic drumming with no fills, a clear, thrashy riff and the screeches over it.

Fortunately The Forsaken have decided to improve on Slaughter of the Soul so Manifest of Hate doesn't end up being just a rehash of the old and no one could bear to listen to Blinded by Fear stretched to five minutes. They've added more than a dash of actual, somewhat technical Swedish death metal. These parts usually alternate with the At The Gates-formula creating a jumble that doesn't work. Some of the changes are just too abrupt and awkward to give a sense of single entity and the gothenburg riffs sound incredibly weak in comparison. To mix things up a little more, these death metal parts sometimes feature thrashy riffs reminiscent of early Morbid Angel. It seems that the band wasn't sure what they wanted to write, gothenburg or death metal. They were just writing riffs and combining them together to cool-sounding entities which might or might not work. At least they didn't include any melodic breaks to bog down the songs even more. Songs like Soulshade and Betrayal within Individuals show that if the band had done their homework, this album could have been salvaged to perhaps an EP. These tracks aren't all the way good, but they include enough working parts that a handful of worthy songs could have been worked out.

What ultimately ruins the album is the production, courtesy of the Abyss studios and Tommy Tägtgren. That should tell you how every instrument sounds, generic as all hell. Guitars lack crunch and power, they only include gloss. The vocal effects are the ones you have heard on a thousand other albums. The drums are as plain as they can be and the bass is barely audible except when brought to the forefront which happens perhaps twice. A lot on the album could've been saved with more powerful guitars. The At The Gates-riffs demand crunch, not slick. They are weak and dull enough on their own. The death metal parts would've also benefited from a dirtier guitar sound. The vocals vary from a deeper death growl to the Tomas Lindberg-screech. Probably the vocalist didn't have a distinct enough style on his own so the usual effects were applied and his death growl ended up sounding like the vocals of most no-name bands that did their albums at Abyss under Tommy and it is evident after who the screech is modified. One of the most interesting parts on Manifest of Hate is the drumming so it is nice that the drums are clear. However the cymbals sound as lively as clay pots which detracts a lot.

I have a distinct feeling that this album could have been improved a lot if the raw materials had been utilized better but I guess this was just another meal on the table for Tommy Tägtgren and he was just going through the motions when guiding the band during their first proper recording.