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Album Review: 200 STAB WOUNDS Manual Manic Procedures

9 Reviewer
Score

If you want to make straightforward death metal in 2024 and not get lost in the deluge, you'd better make it catchy, memorable, and heavy as hell. If you're not blending the standard meal with some doom, black, electronic, or experimental side-dishes … man, that main course better be damn good. Luckily for Cleveland, Ohio's 200 Stab Wounds this is no problem at all. Steve, Ezra, Owen, and Raymond are simply master chefs in the kitchen of blood, guts and gore.

200 Stab Wounds already dazzled death metal fans with some promising tunes on their 2020 EP and 2021 debut album, but Manual Manic Procedures takes their expertise to new heights. The clear and crisp production really helps the guitars blast out of your speakers, with just the perfect amount of crunch and fire to light up the room. The rhythms are infectious and bring plenty of variation to keep you listening. The bass provides the hardened skeleton of this death metal beast, allowing its growling voice to be projected right into your soul.

200 Stab Wounds' sound bears a striking similarity to latter-day Cannibal Corpse, as the producer Andy Nelson dials in the guitar sound in a way that's reminiscent of how Erik Rutan has done for the last several Cannibal albums. In terms of technique, however, the band reminds me of Carcass and Exhumed in some moments, Dying Fetus and Skinless in certain spots, and Vader and Misery Index still in others. It's powerful, blistering death metal.

Although the intense and riff-packed opener, "Hands of Eternity", gets things off to a thrilling start, the real glory comes with tracks two and three. "Gross Abuse" is a real headbanger that slices and cuts the guitars and drums in a way that lets both instruments shine. It's also incredibly efficient at only one minute and 50 seconds. Meanwhile, the title track might be my favorite on the album, as it showcases the band's skills at various moods and tempos, encompassing the record's strengths in a conveniently condensed package.

Other highlights include the cool, moody interlude track "Led To The Chamber / Liquified", which brings some much needed drama and diversity to the album's sonic narrative. However, the band's songwriting chops come through in impressive fashion on "Defiled Gestation." The amount of twists and turns makes you feel like you just listened to five different songs in less than five minutes.

Manual Manic Procedures is a solid work of modern death metal. Every member of 200 Stab Wounds brings heavy excellence to this album, and fans of the style should be thoroughly satisfied. Just the variation of parts within each song makes it worth exploring, as you're never sure where the tunes will take you next. Well, you know it'll be bloody. And you'll be glad for it.

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