When you’re still shivering with excitement, it’s very hard to write a review… Nevertheless, I shall try and begin from the start. Marianas Rest are not a well-known band and it had been totally unknown to me before one of my twitter friends drew my attention to it by sending me their music video called Nadir. Even the very first listening was quite strong, for the sound is quite unique. Discovering uniqueness on the first listening is an unusual thing, especially for someone, who doesn’t expect surprises anymore. Marianas Rest are surprising.
What sort of a mysterious band, whose debut album features such a mature and full sound oscillating between aggressive, cold sharpness backed by typical death metal sound, and very clever music ideas, is this?
Marianas Rest were formed in 2013 as a six-men band. The list of members doesn’t involve any famous name, except the keyboardist Aapo Koivisto, who is well-known to the fans of Omnium Gatherum. I mention them (OG) on purpose. Marianas Rest come from the same city as Omnium Gatherm or Insomnium. Hence, their cradle is Kotka, city situated on the seashore of the Gulf of Finland. I can’t explain why so many great death metal projects originate there. Perhaps it’s the climate of the cold grey sea.
The debut album begins with two song, which were advertised previously; The Millenialist and Nadir. Surprisingly, these are not the best songs of the album. Listeners don’t have to fear any kind of disappointment, for all the songs possess the same power. The Millenialist is only a small illustration of the Jaakko Mäntymaa’s voice. As other tracks prove, his voice is capable of producing screaming which grows from the whisper into the wild madness. Another charismatic screaming voice was born in Finland.
Jaakko Mäntymaa isn’t a completely unknown name on the metal scene. Metalcore lovers could know him from ID: Exorcist. However, with Marianas Rest, he got the opportunity to fully enjoy all the possibilities his instrument provides. And that instrument is a very disturbing, sharp voice, which scratches on the windows and causes the shiver run down one’s spine. This variation of voice roles and hearable playfulness, which sometimes goes beyond singer’s or listener’s limits, makes this musician interesting and exceptional.
In For the Hearless Mäntymaa becomes a cruel doom metal storyteller of the tales for extremely naughty children, which, in connection with his visage of Pratchett’s Lord Vetinari, creates an impressive picture, just like the song itself.
The keyboards are dominant in For the Heartless, whereas Hurts like Hell opens the door for the guitars and its masters Nico Mänttäri and Hari Sunla. I must confess, that this very song, in which the painful screaming of the frontman tears from the guitar depths and the regular doom metal rhythm created by the drums (played by Nico Heininen), did pull my heartstrings.
Lonely Place to Die is perhaps closest to music of Swallow the Sun, but one must be careful when it comes to comparing two bands. Therefore, I just touch this similarity. Marianas Rest differ from Swallow the Sun in that one moment of the song when we expect sophisticated fusion of music and vocals, which is known to us from the famous formation from Jyväskylä. The pirates from Kotka miss this fusion. They start tearing silk by one’s ear and scream instead. Just to complete the picture for those who know Swallow the Sun (but never heard Marianas Rest) I might say that the same effect could be achieved if Mikko Kotamäki would dress up as Goat Tormentor and scream through some gentle song of Swallow the Sun in style he used during his black metal years.
The uniqueness of the sound makes Marianas Rest hard to compare to any other band. Although it is possible to tell some sources of inspiration, the album as such is original and has its own style. It’s a very compact project and even though it is a debut album, it sounds mature. It isn’t a musical baby, but a grownup personality which stands in front of the listener. Marianas Rest skipped their own puberty and therefore we can only wait which way they will develop. And will they develop even further? Will they remain where they are? Will they change? To tell the truth, I’ve got no idea, but if this formation gets even better, we’ll stare in amazement.
I can only wish Marianas Rest success not only in their native Finland, but abroad as well. I look forward to seeing them live here in the Czech Republic. For me, this is a close second-best death doom metal album of the year, just behind Grey Heavens (Omnium Gatherum), which holds the first position in my personal list.
Translation: Toni Střítezská
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