Released: 2005, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Since there is no shortage of metalcore releases hitting the shelves these days, the choosy consumer must look for something different, something unique when dropping their hard-earned dollars on a given release. In other words, why buy Band A when Band B is basically the same CD with different guys playing on it? With SLEEP IN YOUR GRAVE, the stunning debut of Riverside, California’s Manntis, metalheads can rest assured that this band has something to offer. The songs on SLEEP IN YOUR GRAVE come fast and furious—the entire CD is only 28 minutes long. The music draws immediate parallels to Killswitch Engage and labelmates Shadows Fall and God Forbid with powerful multi-faceted vocals, punishing breakdowns, impressive guitarwork and a bruising rhythm section that is matched up with hook-filled melodies and just the right amount of hardcore angst. Not entirely original, I know, but really, what is these days? Manntis formed in 2000 but it was MTV’s reality show, THE BATTLE FOR OZZFEST, that saw the band gain immediate exposure with the track “The End’s Where It Begins,” which was penned for Judas Priest’s Rob Halford. Over 600 bands competed but Manntis came out in the top three landing a coveted spot on Ozzfest 2005. Bottom line is that Manntis (wasn’t that one of Godzilla’s winged foes, as well?) have perfected the formula and for a young band having achieved that on its debut, that alone is worth raising the horns to.
Jake Sirokman’s harsh bark comes out of the gates like an angry pitbull on “Axe of Redemption.” The riff on this track is amazing and will not leave your head. The searing six-string mastery continues on “Shades of Hatred” with a shredding intro as well as on “Reflections of You,” with pinch harmonics masterfully laid down. One of the strong points of Manntis is its incredibly tight rhythm section of Clint Gregory and Jimmie Sanders. “My Enemy” proves that in spades as a smoking breakdown showcases both players. “A New Breed of Life” sees some barely-there clean vocals introduced but unfortunately they seem forced and out of place, as if they were added simply to say there are clean vocals on the CD. The behemoth title track is the real winner here. Building up from a simple riff, “Sleep In Your Grave” hits a headbanging peak that will get the moshpits swirling instantly. The guitarwork on this track really echoes that of Shadows Fall and the thrash-inspired riffs will have metalheads salivating while the Hatebreed-like breakdown will put a smile on the hardcore kids’ faces. “The End’s Where It Begins” is a bit of an oddball track for this band. I suppose they are showing how dynamic they are but after 25 minutes of all-out aggression, this two-minute acoustic feast just seems out of place (good idea tacking it on the end of the CD). The track is actually quite catchy but it sounds like something Incubus or Finger Eleven would write, not a southern California metalcore band!
Manntis was a real surprise for me not only because of the intensity of the music but as a reviewer, the sheer number of metalcore releases that cross my desk becomes a bit overwhelming. This is the current “trend” genre and there is a lot of half-baked albums that are getting churned out to capitalize on the market. SLEEP IN YOUR GRAVE does stand above the rest and with the support of Century Media and a spot on this year’s Ozzfest, I predict that Manntis will have a breakout year.
KILLER KUTS: “Axe of Redemption,” “Shades of Hatred,” “Reflections of You,” “My Enemy,” “Resist and Overcome,” “Sleep In Your Grave”