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Music Review: Deadlock – Manifesto

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I cannot say I expected much when I first pressed play on Deadlock’s latest. Actually, prior to getting my hands on Manifesto, I had never heard of them. So, before I even got to the play button, I cruised over to their MySpace page and took a gander at the samples there. My reaction was not terribly positive.

The music seemed solid, but it also seemed terribly familiar. It was as if I had heard this many times before. Is it possible the dual male/female vocal melodic metal genre is already played out? Did the explosion of Evanescence kill what could have been a great sub-genre? I don’t know. Perhaps. More likely, I just haven’t done enough research in the genre.

Hailing from Germany, Deadlock has been making some noise on the scene since they formed way back in 1997. 2002 saw them release their first full-length album, The Arrival. They are now up to album number four and are just now reaching my ears.

When I took my first pass across the album I found myself zoning out somewhat. It just felt so generic. Yes, the production is absolutely spotless, but production quality will only take you so far. I swear, Manifesto is rather mind numbing; my mind wandered off in search of some Lacuna Coil.

All right, with the first listen was out of the way, dare I take another pass? Yes, yes I dare.

I went back to the well and gave it another listen, this time making an effort to stay with the flow. I was successful in my quest. As I listened to it, a few things began to jump out at me – more than their militant vegan and PETA stances (which made me tune out the lyrical content).

It did not take long for the album to show me something a bit different. Manifesto opens with a techno intro, reminiscent of Mortal Kombat, called “The Moribund Choir vs. the Trumpets of Armageddon.” An odd title to be certain, especially when you consider there is no choir or trumpets. There are a few other techno/electronic influences strewn throughout the album, plus some saxophone, and even a three-minute long rap during the song “Deathrace.”

The album is still not particularly good, but there is something else that came to mind, possibly something more important than the album itself. As fans of music, we are always in search of the next great thing. We are not content to rest on our laurels and accept whatever the labels choose to feed us. This is a very good thing. Unfortunately, this has had another effect; it has bred, at times, an unhealthy elitism when it comes to music. If the band/album is not on the cutting edge, they are not worth listening to. I have been guilty of this on occasion.

This applies to Deadlock. Manifesto is not a great album, it is not destined to be remembered for any great deal of time, but that does not mean it should be ignored in the short term, or the long term if you so choose. The music is solid, catchy, and easy to groove to. Sometimes that is all I need.

There are definitely a few solid tunes on here, including “Martyr to Science,” “The Brave/Agony Applause,” “Dying Breed,” and even “Deathrace.” My biggest complaint about the execution is that it seems the vocals are sometimes sound out of key/flat. It is a little weird, as they will come in and not sync up well with the rest of the band.

Bottomline. No, not a great album. It certainly has its flaws, but it is still eminently listenable and worth spending a little time with. If nothing else, the production is spotless.

Mildly Recommended.

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