Thursday 27 October 2022

Shallow Black - The Second Manuscript (Album Review) And Exclusive Album Premiere

Date Released: October 28th 2022. Record Label: Self Released. Formats: DD

The Second Manuscript: Tracklisting


Chapter One (Consume-ate)

Chapter Two (Burning At The Ends)


Chapter Three (Damn-Age)

Manipulation Of The Human Soul By A Blind Robot Vomiting Algorithms

Chapter 4&5 (King Venom + Hack)

Something In The Way


Erik Bigelow - Everything


Shallow Black return with their next exciting dark and bleak chapter. The Second Manuscript continues the distorted and industrial based journey they made with their first album. The album is quite a gloomy and experimental take on Experimental Doom/Sludge Metal. With Erik taking a more digitised hardcore sound to the album especially on the violent opening song Intro. Parts NIN in places, this heavily stylised and digitised version of Doom/Sludge Metal is a tough listen but Erik pulls no punches with this gloomy offering.

Second song Chapter One (Consume-ate) is less volatile but still remains cautiously bleak and heavy in all the right places. Offering a grungier and industrial style of Post-Black Metal, Doom and Sludge Metal, the song is more riff-centric with Shallow Black adding warped Psychedelic elements to the song. The song is quite fast-paced with the harsh sludgy vocals having a slight Post-Metal feel. The song runs near the eight minutes mark and Shallow Black pulls out all the stops by bringing a more Extreme style of music that I didn't expect. The instrumental work is aggressive and perhaps too raw in places but Erik remains true to his creative self with some epic riffs being played against a backdrop of Industrial/Noise/Ambient/Glitch based sounds.

Third song Chapter Two (Burning At The Ends)  sees Erik draw influence from bands such as the Post Metal world but still retaining that harsh Sludge Metal backdrop. The creepy soundbytes and soundscapes offer a more Occult/Doom based theme that allows Erik to throw some classic distorted Doom Metal riffage along the way. The song is still driven by heavy Industrial tones and experimental vibes for one of the standout tracks on the album. When the Progressive elements appear, the album does become more challenging to listen to. However, it's still a wicked style of Extreme Metal that offers many moments of extended guitar solos that make you want to hear more of.

Fourth track Cleanser is another short paced track that matches the experimental vision of the opening track but perhaps not the heaviness or intensity of the song. Though, it's good for Erik to slow things down a bit for the listener to gather their thoughts before the next round of nightmarish sound that he plays on the album.

Fifth song Chapter Three (Damn Age) continues the story from Chapter Two but maybe with elements of Church Of Misery and Electric Wizard based Stoner grooves at the start of the song. That was another unexpected surprise. As Erik pays homage to his Stoner Metal roots on this track whilst still bringing a whole style of Post-Blackened heaviness to the album. The song is one of the most stylish offerings on the album with Erik's vocal delivery and Ambient/Trance/Spaced Out rhythms building upto an exciting finish. The song perhaps focuses more on catchy riffs than levels of pure aggression. Though, it's still another punishing song to listen to at times.

The next song Manipulation Of The Human Soul By A Blind Robot Vomiting Algorithms is more of Ambient/Industrial track with a heavy digitised vocal performance which can be quite relevant and chilling at the same time.

Seventh song Chapter 4&5 (King Venom + Hack) has been bundled together which opens with an iconic speech from legendary movie The Matrix. This track feels like it could have easily came from the soundtrack of the classic movie. The song is nineties Industrial metal through and through but with that Experimental Doom/Sludge Metal sound that Erik has used for the majority of the album keeping things modern and brutally heavy at the same time.. The song does take time to fully get going but when Erik hits form, the riffs are intense with a sublime Psychedelic/Trance edge. 

The final song is what impressed me the most with a cover of Nirvana classic Something In The Way. A song that has gained more momentum since the release of The Batman film. Erik's version doesn't stray too far from the original with a more colder offering. The song veers from Grunge, Post-Punk and Industrial Metal. The vocals are on the more extreme side but this remains an outstanding cover.

The Second Manuscript is a haunting, bleak and nihilistic release that showcases the more Extreme side to Erik's musical output. However, the album still contains a high amount of great riffs and sounds to fully get behind. 

Shallow Black have released one of the most intense and darkest releases you'll hear this year. This is another must have release from Shallow Black. 

WOW. Now I need a long rest to recover from the darkness of it all....

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Erik for the promo. The Second Manuscript will be available to buy on DD from October 28th 2022.

You can listen to this sublime album with this Exclusive Album Premiere.


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