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Manipulated Slaves
Burst into Blue Flame
August 2002
Released: 2000, World Chaos
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

There is an incredibly rich, diverse and complex metal world in Japan that is so much more than worship of Malmsteen, Dokken, Harem Scarem and Mr. Big! There are hundreds of quality heavy bands active in the underground in Japan and we are going to have a quick look at one of the bigger, but still independent, Japanese metal labels.

World Chaos is a record label that is starting to make waves in the global underground metal community. Formed in late 1999 (I believe) this small Japanese label has producing high caliber Japanese true metal and thrash for a couple of years. Now in North America and Europe some smaller labels like Spinefarm (Fin) and Brazen (US) are starting to discover some of the great artists on this label and ask to license and release this material. We felt it was time to give an overview of the first five releases that World Chaos released. These bands are Terror Squad, (KDM 001) Manipulated Slaves, (KDM 002) Grim Force (KDM 003) Fatima Hill (KDM 004) and Narcotic Greed (KDM 005). Please note: Some of these releases have been licensed from even smaller Japanese labels! I will make a note of it where possible.

For other World Chaos bands reviews you can read Luxi’’s June 2002 review of the King’’s Evil CD, DELETION OF HUMANOISE or Cid’’s June 2002 review of the second Fatima Hill CD, AION.

As with many regional metal labels and bands originating from nations where English is not the dominant language, there are a few elements in each of these bands that may not be as attractive to a metal fan in the Western hemisphere. The prime example is lyrics and translation. I would strongly encourage fans of quality thrash and metal NOT to let your decisions to check out these bands be influenced by cultural differences in terminology and/or general language barriers. Be open-minded and you will be able to discover a whole new world of killer heavy metal!

Manipulated Slaves have been around for quite a while. Formed in 1994 they have done several demos and have experienced the usual line-up changes before settling down. The band has ex-members of Dazzle and Sleazy Wizard for those of you who are familiar with the Japanese underground. (To be honest, I’m not. I’ve never heard of Dazzle or Sleazy Wizard. I just read it in the nice bio they sent me, but it is still good to know.) The band have toured with Arch Enemy, Tankard, God Dethroned and others.

Manipulated Slaves are a death/thrash four piece with a modern edge and some interesting flourishes. The first thing that caught my attention was the sort of ethereal, natural ambient vibe that the band present as an image that really didn’t match the music. The minimalist art has clouds and birds and trees and the songs titles make you think the band looked to the heavens for inspiration, both lyrically, physically and metaphorically. Check out, “Obey The Moon”, Halfway to Heaven”, “Come Down From The Skies” and “The Lunatic Moon on the Dark Sea”. See a pattern? Maybe they are fans of astronomy and astrology. There is also a tiny bit of religious imagery as well. Lyrics would have been nice because I think this band probably has something interesting to say.

Musically the band are very heavy, modern thrash with traditional metal elements and with many good ideas that distinguish them from the pack, including a few female vocals, sparingly used, violin, piano, some narration, a few sound effects and a lots of different voices. These elements are used infrequently but enough to add flavour. Don’t let those extra elements scare you these guys play crushing, riff-heavy, later bay-area metal. The title track has an almost Celtic frost feel with the violin and female vocals. The vocalist has a bit of an Emtombed, deeper death-rock growl and phrasing to his voice which is quite cool. Several brief influences can be noticed in this band and they are all good.

The production is adequate, the guitar tone is nice but parts need work the drum especially. The bass drums are much too far back in the mix and lack that thunderous booming resonance that I like, they click and the cymbals don’t ring true and clear. The ride sounds dull and muted and the crashes…don’t crash! The band produced it themselves, which is admirable, but they could have used an outside ear and opinion.

The solos are just awesome, they are so well done, clean, clear, melodic, technical but not frantic or ultra-showy. My favorite solo is on the track , “Silently Falling Asleep”. I don’t think I could ever fall asleep listening to that solo. The songs are very interesting in terms of construction and execution. A fine debut and their second CD THE LEGENDARY BLACK JADE is also available.
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