Man Must Die – The Pain Behind It All (Distortion Music Group)

Friday, 24th February 2023
Rating: 9/10

Scottish death metal act Man Must Die fired off a volley of four consistently heavy and enjoyable albums over the course of a decade back in the early part of the century, and then all but disappeared after 2013’s Peace Was Never an Option.  2019 brought about a short EP as they resurfaced, but it’s only now, a decade later, that we get a full follow-up in the form of The Pain Behind it All.  Thankfully, the band continues to thrive in vitriol and sheer aggression, though with the time span in between, you can expect some pleasant maturation as well.

Blurring lines between tech-slinging death metal, grind, and hardcore, the melodies kept in the band’s back pocket have been and continue to be the piece that sets them apart from like-minded acts.  The album features some sure-fire barnburner type tracks, as the furious “Patterns in the Chaos” quickly showcases at the start, with frantic blasts and melodic flourishes infiltrating some scathing riffs and Joe McGlynn’s vicious barks. Rager “Clickhate” leaves subtlety at the door, reveling in a hardcore/death metal mixture that absolutely takes no prisoners in its execution.  Then there’s the grind-y and blistering “Bring Me the Head of the King,” which revels in blasts as the anger all but launches it into the stratosphere.  But all grinding makes for a mind-blurring experience, and this is where the maturity steps in.  Well-placed groovy songs like the title track effortlessly slow the band down, without showing signs of compromise.  Instead the chugging, eerie riffs of said track work to add nuance into the mix – allowing dark melodies to bubble up to the surface.  Later track “Enabler” works much in the same fashion, focusing on heavy ‘bang your head’ riffs to bore their way into your skull and firmly attach with ease.

Scorchingly heavy, yet never losing an ounce of memorability, Man Must Die provide a welcome return to the fold with The Pain Behind It All.  Albums as pissed-off sounding as this tend to be the type to listen to a few times and then shrug off, in search of the next adrenaline rush, but Man Must Die nail the perfect mixture of intensity and taper it with just enough melodies to keep you coming back for more rounds – long after the initial aggression wanes.  Perfect for those seeking some top shelf death metal with a surprisingly level of replayability.

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