Review: “The Pain Behind It All” by Man Must Die

Twenty years ago Glasgow Technical Death Metal outfit Man Must Die emerged with a demo EP titled “Season Of Evil” which began a career that has had highs and lows with the release of four albums and a sophomore EP to this point. In that time they’ve recorded with Jean-François Dagenais (Misery Index, Despised Icon, Kataklysm) in Canada, Scott “The Terminator” Atkins (Venom Prison, Cradle Of Filth, Vader) and played shows with everyone from Aborted to Machine Head and Exodus. Four years between 2009’s “No Tolerance For Imperfection” and 2013’s “Peace Was Never An Option” was put down to line up issues before a seven year hiatus ended with 2020 EP “Gagging Order“. Now the band return once more with a refreshed line up of  vocalist Joe McGlynn, guitarists Alan McFarland and Mike Allan, bassist James Wright and Italian drummer Tony Corio for “The Pain Behind It All“…

Like many who have gone before them the fact is that there are two original members left in Man Must Die while second guitarist Allan was actually the engineer who recorded the bands forth album in a beaten up studio in the back of beyond in the east of Scotland. That makes it a challenge to compare the bands prior works with the new ones as technically they aren’t the same band even if the writing partnership of Joe McGlynn and Alan McFarland remains intact. People age with things like a persons perspective change over time with the influences of their surroundings, friends and family having an impact but if you’re asking if Man Must Die have mellowed and stepped away from those Technical Death Metal roots then the answer is not for one moment. “The Pain Behind It All” is an album upon which no quarter is asked for nor given. The opening call of “F*** it!” during “O.C.D” which sounds like it feels to wake up after being struck over the head by a brick is a genius starting point before the galloping “Patterns in the Chaos” makes for a blistering first cut proper. Staccato riff breaks, spine juddering odd time signatures, blast beats and larynx threatening vocals from McGlynn are the order of the day and they have been served piping hot. The album title track backs off a little bit, switching to a dirge laden atmospheric Groove Death style that makes it feel like a Meshuggah demo, the riffs being just as much about the free flowing technical sounds as the silence in between them. There is no escaping the depth of feeling that McGlynn is able to convey vocally however which confirms that this album and this band aren’t all about technicality for technicalities sake.

That is also something prominent in “In the Hour Before your Death“, a deeply personal cut lyrically for McGlynn that sonically finds the band between Gothenburg era Melodic Death Metal and something that Lamb Of God would be proud do call their own because despite the sentiment attached, it’s just as ranging as anything that came before it. “Clickhate” is an interesting one as underneath it’s Technical Death Metal skin it has a heart of American Hardcore with gang chanted moments and breakdowns that will incite circle pits and fist in the air crowd participation when the shows come along. “Enabler” then gives us a moment of clarity, cleansing the palette with a piano and harsh whisper opening that refreshes with its darkness before the guitars, bass and drums come crashing down in a torrent of pure hatred. The musicianship is again exceptional with moments that hark back to the self titled Chimaira record as indicator of quality before a wonderfully intricate solo. At this point of an album you may not expect a cut as scalding as “Bring me the Head of the King” but capturing their live energy like lightening in a bottle Man Must Die take a leaf out of the Trivium playbook and deliver an absolute skull crusher that does the unthinkable. It elevates the album to a whole new realm of existence in one single three and a half minute rampage of fretboard smoking guitars and face melting leads. It’s that good that you’ll be asking yourself what you just heard.

Reaffirming that they have the ability to go toe to toe with anyone in the Metal scene “War is my Will” tears a hole in the fabric of space and time with a buzzsaw of Groove fuelled Death Metal as McGlynn pushes himself to his absolute vocal limits. It genuinely feels like the band sat down to write and record this album as Machine Head famously did before they recorded “Through The Ashes Of Empires” and said to each other, if this is the last time, lets make this the best it can possibly be. The biggest, the boldest, the most honest picture of where we are and who we want to be as a band because there is no doubt in this writers mind that this album is the finest hour from Man Must Die and while they have plenty to be proud of in their career, this is the jewel in the crown. A moment of melody and release “Alone in a Crowded Room” gives us another breather before the finale of “Who Goes there?/I.F.F” sends us off into the cold winters night with a single malt for a nightcap. “Identify. Friend or Foe” is a classic Bay Area Thrash inspired cut brought up to date with modern production and razor sharp edges, the perfect way to bring the curtain down on an album that is nothing short of pure class [9/10]

Track Listing

  1. O.C.D
  2. Patterns in the Chaos
  3. The Pain Behind it All
  4. In the Hour Before your Death
  5. Clickhate
  6. Enabler
  7. Bring me the Head of the King
  8. War is my Will
  9. Alone in a Crowded Room
  10. Who Goes there?/I.F.F

The Pain Behind It All” by Man Must Die is out 17th February 2023 via Distortion Music Group

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