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Album Review: MANIPULATOR Voidbound

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My interest in old school death’s rebirth has wandered; more and more bands are making less and less interesting music. On Voidbound, Manipulator stanch that flow of banality. The band faithfully fling the filth, but they also douse their songs in notably sinister sauce. Throw in a “Cromlech” cover from Darkthrone’s Soulside Journey, along with Manipultor’s entire Unearthed demo album for free, and I’ll bite.

Manipulator supply torrents of viscous riffs, delivered with the wet putrescence that marked Autopsy’s early efforts. These songs are much more than incoherent flippy floppy; curiously hypnotic hooks and stupendous rhythmic feats are sewn into the subsonic gurgle. The drums and bass are expertly executed; the sound of Chris Reifert’s organic skin beating is faithfully emulated.

My ears perked up when I realized Manipulator feature the same, sole songwriter/performer as Aurvandil. Yearning was a highlight of 2011, filled with impossibly vast, mesmerizing grimness. Voidbound and Unearthed are drenched in reverbed, inter-dimensional leads, which recall Aurvandil and also bring to mind blissful Mitochondrial hallucinations.

Although the “Cromlech” cover doesn’t ape the original’s Sunlight Sound, it captures Darkthrone’s early death metal ambitions quite nicely. Manipulator do pay homage to the track’s bizarre synthesized accompaniment; keys are deployed in force. Synthesizers also make entertainingly subdued appearances on the rest of Voidbound, but are completely absent from Unearthed. Although produced with just a bit less purposeful murk, the Unearthed demo tracks are just as putridly potent as the newer material; I’d have a hard time telling the difference.

In need of a beastly bit of atavism? Manipulator are here to help. Let’s hope the band have more of this primal purulence on tap.


Voidbound is out on March 16th via Soulseller Records.  You can check out a track over at That's How Kids Die.

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