Manacle’s first studio album No Fear to Persevere starts off with ominous acoustic work that reminds one of classic Testament or Annihilator. Such an introduction would suggest a classier than usual retro thrash act, but No Fear to Persevere is thoroughly classic metal. The faster tempos and rhythmic surges have more in common with Walls of Jericho-era Helloween than Metallica, the vocals are consistently delivered in a Kiske-style wail, and the production covers it all in an eighties-friendly, reverb-heavy veil. Those who heard the debut by Indianapolis’s Sacred Leather earlier this year will find this to be of similar influence and aesthetic.
Despite the Ontario group’s history of lineup debacles (the rhythm section on here isn’t even with the band anymore), they seem to know what they’re doing. The musicianship is quite tight, offering plenty of solid transitions and the tones go naturally with the production. The vocals also avoid grating on one’s nerves. One could attribute that to the album’s rather short runtime, but the actual timbre and balance in the mix does keep them from overwhelming the listener in context.
The songwriting is also competent, but it could stand further development. The band clearly knows how to structure a tune as the riffs are solid and the song lengths are tight enough to warrant the tempo fluctuations. It’s tricky to tell if the choruses themselves need to be more memorable or the buildups to them more straightforward, but the dynamics on songs like “Tears of Wrath” and “Stand Tall” are clearly putting in the effort even if they don’t reach a classic status.
Six songs over twenty-eight minutes makes Manacle’s full-length debut feel more like a glorified EP, but the band clearly worked to put their best steps forward. An extra banger or two would’ve helped give this release more weight but the band is talented enough to establish their sound in the timeframe they’ve chosen. No Fear to Persevere is best suited to niche metal fans, but one can hope that Manacle will live up to that title and give us something even stronger in the future.
“Fight for Your Life”