|If you like your Stoner Metal a bit dark and you prefer growls over vocalists who yell in a moderately toneful manner, check Akem Manah out.|
|One of the odder gems in the underground American Doom Metal scene, Akem Manah (Not to be confused with band of the same name from Belgium) first caught my attention with their 2011 EP 'Horror In The Eyes'. Blending together elements of Stoner Metal, Death Doom and Blackened Doom Metal, you can probably guess that the produced material these guys put forth is anything but bright and hopeful. Coming off as hypnotic, dirgy and terrifying all at the same time, the threesome from Oregon have outdone themselves in every way on their second full length release. Starting off with the entrancing 'Black Moon' and the Sabbath worship session of 'The Dead Man's Heart', Akem Manah are proving that they definitely belong in the conversation when it comes to worthwhile groups responsible for the fuzzier side of Doom Metal. If there was a downside to the group that could put off potential fans, it would definitely lie in the artwork, which screams satanic love in all the cheesiest of ways. Please don't put a huge 6 6 6 on your CD cover next time, guys.
One of my favorite moments on the album has to be the band's third recorded attempt (Yes, it's true, but it definitely shows that they're not at all scared of showing their influences) at covering Electric Wizard's massive anthem 'Funeralopolis' from their 'Dopethrone' album. This time around, however, the band put in a stronger effort at truly trying to make the track their own and it has finally paid off. I would, however, still take the original rendition anytime. How can you not? Moving on, the stronger presence of keyboards on the record is a beautiful forward step and the vocals are showing a stronger sense of individuality than they ever have before. As far as the guitars go, being smothered in fuzz was more than expected all around and it was a general driving force for the record... until I arrived at their 'Dark Hour' composition. On this track the group displays some of the most cleaned up guitar recordings i've ever heard from their discography along with some tasty effect-laden lead sections. The element of chant-like vocal segments and another strong keyboard presence in the track also help it move along rather nicely and not reach a point of boredom, which is hard to say about a lot of tracks exceeding the ten minute mark.
The album rounds out with the nine minute passage, 'This Tortured Soul', which combines a lot of elements from the previous track with more of their earlier Sabbath worship. This is actually my least favorite track on the whole record, displaying some bad guitar note choices in the various extensive lead solo sections. The song does, however, salvage itself around the halfway point and, aside from the irritable leads that I already made mention of, brings the album home (Not counting the outro track) with a fuzzy, crunchy and dirgy punch to the heart. If you like your Stoner Metal a bit dark and you prefer growls over vocalists who yell in a moderately toneful manner because they can't actually sing, I would definitely recommend this record. If you're not a fan of anything Doom related, grow a pair and stop being such a pussy. Akem Manah is more than alright in my book. A clear cut 7 and a half demonic possessions out of 10!
So, as it turned out, my ripper wasn't working correctly and never properly included the final track on the album when it converted everything... and what a track to have missed the first time around! At over twenty minutes in length, the album closer 'Into The Darkness' is a slowly churning, dark and dirgy piece of excellent doomy craftmanship that builds into a beautiful outro filled with feedback, chanting and organs. It may be a bit too long for it's own good, with repetition always being a considerable problem when a track goes on for this long, but the elements are well executed all the same.
1. Black Moon
2. The Dead Man's Heart
3. Return To... Funeralopolis
4. Witches Ride
5. The Dark Hours
6. This Tortured Soul
7. End Of Days
8. Into The Darkness
- I. The Passing
- II. Libera Me, Domine
Duration : Approx. 50 minutes
Visit the Akem Manah (USA) bandpage.