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25 Dec 2010

Review: Manifest Destiny (Various Artists)

Manifest Destiny
Various Artists
Triskele Recordings, 2010

The concept of Manifest Destiny is – as the name and artwork suggests – to give a host of American underground/post-industrial acts the opportunity for exposure to the world.

Spanning neofolk, martial pop, industrial, psychedelic, and dark ambient influences, the CD includes both some well known names and some more obscure artists as well. Unfortunately as is often the case with compilation CDs it is a bit of a mixed bag.

We begin with Luftwaffe mixing eerie folk guitar and strident marching orations; followed by a somewhat unconvincing David E. William track lamenting the slaughter at Langemark in World War I. Cult of Youth follow on and never do they disappoint with their almost funky brand of driving neofolk. Valence and In Ruin pair one another nicely with songs that delve more into the psychedelic folk side of things, although at times In Ruin’s track seems a little jumbled or unfinished.

Awen offer a strident celebration of 19th century anti-Christian newsman William Brann; the typewriter percussion is a very nice touch and deserves more extensive exploration in future Awen releases! Gnomoclast’s track feels unfortunately a little flat following right after, however.

Verdandi present us with Alice Karlsdottir’s stirring recitations from Voluspa – the cosmic and sometime-apocalyptic visions of Norse mythology. Definitely a highlight. C.O.T.A follow with a piece called “Dream,” and really carry the trance-trip into deep territory with their evocative, near-ambient horizons.

The next three tracks were a little lost on me – Eric K.’s has a catchy chorus but as with In Ruin feels somehow undercooked. H8! and Steel Hook Prostheses seem to traverse various regions of silliness and/or bad taste (insofar as it is even a reviewer’s right to comment on such things). Deform Uniform round out the proceedings with some quite beautiful dark ambient textures.

There are some great bands and tracks on this release, but unfortunately the whole proves less than the sum of its parts, and not all contributors manage to maintain the standard set by the stronger performers.

Although not a bad place to start if one is curious about American post-industrial artists, this release doesn’t quite fulfil the ambition of its moniker, and further exploration into the fertile world of North American post-industrial music is recommended.

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