Oh, Manhattan - Spiritual Warfare
Record Label: Indianola Records
Release Date: 9/27/2011
Oh, Manhattan is a 5-piece post-hardcore/metalcore band from Atlanta, Georgia.
How is it?
On the fence. In some ways Spiritual Warfare is a typical generic scene product, but it is redeemed by others that are very creative and downright profound. Let's start with the good news.
The vocals are easily the brightest facet of the album. Both the cleans and screams are emotionally in tune with the poetry, and aren't divorced from the emotion by being smoothed to artificial perfection like many bands in the scene opt to do. I'll allow the lyrics to speak for themselves, since they are always the most subjective portion of a given album, so please take note that I have given special thought to the lyrics rating. Next, the album is chock full of somewhat mathy, progressive riffs from the guitar section. Although this aspect of Spiritual Warfare is a little restrained to keep the album accessible, the listener can feel both the potential and kinetic talent burst from every note. Lastly, the programming on Spiritual Warfare is absolutely on point. By throwing out the poorly executed and unnecessary dance beats out the window in favor of bright, mellow tones in the background, Oh, Manhattan have given many points of the album a much appreciated large and atmospheric surrealism.
Now for the bad news. Unfortunately, the percussion, while still audible, is for the most part lost amongst the rest of the album's activity. Occasionally it becomes a major point of interest, as in the chorus and bridge of "The World Ends With You", but typically the production keeps it mixed much too far in the back and its intricacy is drowned out as a result. Far and away, the biggest complaint to be made about this album is the overabundance of chuggy and southern metal-esque breakdowns. There are but less than a handful of these that aren't by the book generic. Contrast the painfully annoying duration of "Waco" with the bridge of "Mercury in the Water" for a prime example.
Spiritual Warfare will undoubtedly be on the fringe of toleration for some of you (I'm closer to this end) and on the fringe of exploration for others. Regardless, Oh, Manhattan's debut offering is one valuable plank attached to the long bridge between the generic metalcore scene and real, honest creativity. If we can push bands like Oh, Manhattan to the front of the scene and garner a good deal of success and attention, I believe we can slowly begin to restart the engine of metalcore's creativity and get those wheels of progression turning again, even from the belly of the scene mob beast.
Good review! The album is enjoyable and I do agree that it is very creative but some songs sound like they were written for other popular bands (by popular I mean bands that have already made a name for themselves).