If shock/schlock metal meisters Lordi and operatic hard rockers Evanescence had violent hate-sex at a rave (while making music… I guess…), the result would probably not be very interesting the first time around. But given the time and effort of one down-on-his-luck trainer and a gaggle of precociously sassy latchkey kids, clam flammit, the result just might congeal into Deadlock’s Manifesto. The album cover implies fantasy metal, so it’s pretty shocking when track one, “The Moribund Choir vs. The Trumpets of Armageddon,” opens with a 4/4 techno dance beat. The song’s single lyric, “Let’s go fucker-fuckers,” clearly shows the band’s sense of humor (I hope).
But before listeners can pop and/or lock it, “Martyr to Science” kicks in with double bass drums a-pounding. Co-vocalist Johannes Prem goes for demonic throat-shredding shouts, while keyboardist/co-vocalist Sabine Weniger brings soaring clean singing to the mix. While the scream/sing dynamic has been done too much here in the states (see any screamo band from the last like eight years), these German shredders actually blend the two more seamlessly. While the instrumental changes that accompany the different vocals sometimes overkill the moment – way too many strings crop up during some of Weniger’s parts seconds after Prem and the band thrash through
Getting back to respect, Deadlock happens to be vegan and straight edge. “Seal Slayer” sarcastically criticizes seal hunting with lines like “As long as there is no law against the hunt and the animals don’t speak / with a cruel blow to the top of the head we will kill and hunt down the weak.” It’s a little heavy handed, especially with words like “If he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind, doom will soon await us.” And I’m not sure what to make of the rap breakdown on “Deathrace,” another pro-animal rights song.
Manifesto’s biggest flaw is its theatrics. Prem’s incomprehensible scream is powerful, but loses its edge by muddying his words. Throw in the fact that Weniger handles all the hooks, and Prem feels unnecessary. The musical experimentation the band uses - a sax solo on “Fire at Will;” slow-flow rapping on “Deathrace?” – certainly pushes metal’s boundaries well past chest-beating and Satanic worship. But there’s still that lingering preference on my part for Minor Threat when it comes to straight edge bands. Manifesto is a record I respect from Deadlock, a band I admire for both its technical musicianship and ethical stances. But I’d rather be spinning Embrace, ya know? Take it like this – I don’t like metal much, but Deadlock is one metal band with a whole lot to hold in high regard.