Creating a sound which is fresh and striking whilst employing a wealth of familiar essences from a healthy array of genres, Welsh solo artist Manumit follows up the success of and acclaim for his previous singles and EPs with debut album Digital & Hostile. It is an enthralling proposition which entangles rich elements of heavy rock and electronic invention with equally potent strains of amongst many dubstep, drum n bass, and post hardcore. Released via Lost Generation Records, Digital & Hostile is a thoroughly compelling proposition which ebbs and flows in its success but never submits to predictability whilst exciting ears.
Brought to life in 2012, the Bridgend, South Wales hailing project took little time in grabbing attention and keen recognition. Manumit’s first EP F**k Genres, Love Music soon woke a hunger in fans and potent interest from the underground media upwards for his sound whilst the music video for the track Walk Away soon become a centre of attention on the likes of Scuzz TV. Subsequent singles and videos emulated that early success and bred a stronger anticipation for the band’s first full-length. Bringing those earlier singles together with a host of new songs, Digital & Hostile is a ten track adventure which from start to finish intrigues and flirts with the imagination.
The release makes a gentle opening with the intro of Sacrifice, a guitar making a lone evocative coaxing within a colder atmospheric drift of sonic whispers. It is a thoroughly engaging start to the track soon making an even stronger seduction with the excellent vocals of Manumit. The song simmers in the warmth of melodic rock at this point with a folk lilt to the vocals and melodies yet all the time in the background you sense something is brewing and moving towards the foreground of the song. It arrives in a fiery blaze of electro rock, Pendulum immediately coming to mind as the track bristles and rages within the pulsating embrace of its electronic invention. It stops itself from being a replica of existing propositions though with the continuing of the excellent melodic rock enterprise unveiled earlier in the song and the great vocals which also employ post hardcore antagonism in their delivery.
The track is a strong and appetite sparking start which the following Walk Away easily continues. It also opens with a gentle emotive stroking, a piano this time casting its melodic beauty over ears and imagination swiftly joined by the again deeply impressive vocals. There is a touch of Coheed and Cambria to the start and it too is brought into an electro maelstrom of temptation though with a stronger lilt to the heavier rock side of the track this time. Vocal squalls add to the wide texture of the song whilst the aligning electronic endeavour brings a mesh of Nine Inch Nails meets Skrillex to its striding triumph. As with its predecessor, it does feel like the track is one spark too short in its fire, never exploding into the rigorous tempest you expect and hope but it does not stop either from making a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive start to the album.
Do The Right Thing also glides in gracefully, its exotic tempting on an electronic breeze almost Peter Gabriel like. In no time it erupts with raw emotionally charged vocals within a thick and inventive weave of electronic incitement, all veined with heavier rock riffs and rhythmic provocation. Vocally the song is as superb as those before and after, the strength and expression of Manumit a striking given success across the album, whilst the expectations evading twists of the song and the classical elegance of keys within the bustling sonic storm is at times bewitching. It is another very potent proposition for the main matched by both Everything Changes and When I’m Gone. The first of the two is a flowing persuasion of electro rock with plenty of tenacious essences from both sides of that mix in its evocative stroll whilst the second is a gentler but no less busy croon of emotive keys and electro radiance splintered by an array of punchy beats and incendiary guitar designs. Maybe the least impressive track so far it nevertheless is an infectiously captivating song showing the strength of the album.
Another diverse twist comes with the album through the magnetic balladry of Your Body Giving Up. Fronted by the glorious and seductive tones of Tanyth Roberts, the song is a sultry flame of atmospheric tension, melodic drama, and electronic intrigue which makes more of a lingering impression and success than an upfront persuasion but emerges as one of the most riveting songs on the album. Its enslaving provocative charm is followed by the energetic stomp of Can You Hear Us? From a nintendo-esque opening, the song bursts into a rampant charge of electronic and heavy rock tenacity, merging the electro punk roar of a Jensen with the more mischievous virulence of a Hadouken or Axis Mundi. It is an irresistible contagion which is as antagonistic as it is anthemic, and the best track on the release.
The raging urgency continues in Abuse Of Power, its raw challenge lyrically and musically tempered by the melodic vocals and electronic designs which seduce the imagination as much as the quarrelsome textures and hardcore tones within the proposition. Elegant keys also add to the drama and though the track does not grip as many others, it is still a masterful persuasion before making way for The Passing Of Nothing. It is a track which starts much like the opening pair on the album, from its delicious harmonic and melodic initial touch evolving into an electronic and vocal blaze around a stirring sinew sculpted slice of rock. You are never too far from thoughts of Pendulum with many songs but with the numerous other flavours flowing through them, here a Spineshank like industrial metal spicing at play, Manumit takes every song into a distinctive corner.
Closed by the transfixing Afterflow which from a underwhelming start emerges as another engrossing incitement, thanks predominantly to Manumit’s fine vocals and a steely anger to the song’s body, Digital & Hostile is a formidable and richly pleasing release. Whether it is as intrusive and raucous enough to match its undoubted potential is one for the individual but Manumit has shown himself with the album, to be one of Britain’s more creatively dynamic and exciting prospects.
Digital & Hostile is available via Lost Generation Records on 1st September @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/digital-hostile/id883699098 and other online stores.
Live Band line-up: ( Manumit – Vocals/guitar/keys/samples;Skullfunk – Vocals/MC;Larusso – Guitars, Bandit – Drums.
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