Saturday, August 6, 2016

Heaven Grey-Manuscriptum

When one thinks of the country of Latvia in music, the first band that usually comes up is Skyforger. Given the relative dearth of bands from that country compared to their neighbors in Russia, Finland, etc., it isn't much of a surprise. However, there is a band from there that is looking to make a name for themselves in Heaven Grey. Having originally formed in 1993, they barely got off the ground, releasing one full album before disbanding in 1999. They would reform in 2007, but would undergo major lineup changes after the 2010 album Falling Mist. Their latest in the long line of stops and starts with their current lineup is Manuscriptum.

Manuscriptum begins with "Insomnia," which has a traditional Gothic music entrance before mixing with doom metal. Initially, it has a rather grand sound, complete with violin, but once the vocals kick in, it becomes something of a mixed bag, as while the clean vocals are distinct and well done, the growls have a harder time establishing itself. Musically, it's fairly well done except for the end, where it just ends abruptly. "Drown in My Shade" clearly shows that going with the throaty clean vocals are the way to go, as they prove to be strong on the album. However, the growls begin to gain an identity, as they appear to be done so with more assertion. "The intro to "Theatre of Shadows" starts off well, but it becomes a mess almost as soon as the vocals kick in, as the growls just simply don't push themselves above the music. The idea of strong starts with disappointing endings becomes a recurring theme on Manuscriptum almost to the point that one begins to expect it for the entire album. In many ways, it's a wasted opportunity to truly show the musical talent that the band has, as the vocals are decent and the music is generally above average when all the elements are in play. The problem lies in the songwriting ability, as it comes off as a jumbled mess at times.

Heaven Grey is a fairly good band when they are focused. However, as evidenced on Manuscriptum, that is not always the case, as despite the above average music ability, the songs don't come together often enough and the general inability to end songs on a smoother note make it something of a chore to get through the album. You can do worse than Manuscriptum, but you can also do better.

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