Manipulation – Mind Control Ultra

Rating: 4/5
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Released: 2019
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Band Line-up:

Rado.Slav – Guitars
Kriss – Drums
Bysiek – Bass
Vulture – Guitars
JCB Christless – Vocals

  1. Instruments Of Change
  2. Worshipers Of Mirage
  3. Slaves Of The System
  4. From The Inside
  5. MK-Ultra
  6. Limits
  7. Energy Of The Universe
  8. The Skull With Acid In Eye
  9. Room 216
  10. Trample The Weak
  11. RFID
  12. Tale Told By An Idiot

Manipulation are a death metal band on Satanath Records and who are from Goldap, Poland. They formed in 2001 and released their fourth full length album ‘Mind Control Ultra’ on June 10th, 2019. They have also given the world two demo albums and an EP and the various band members have performed/do perform with the likes of Empatic, Deathbringer, Sinful Souls, Disloyal, Saw, Prafuria and Cinis.

Most of us know about the kind of death metal where it’s all just riffs, grunts, blast beats and aggression. You do get all those things in MCU, but you also get synths and surprisingly thoughtful distorted guitar arpeggios in places. That’s right, not just power chords! Yes such basic two-note chords, along with extreme dissonance and tremolo picked guitars based on evil scales, often Arabic, dominate, but that will be no problem whatsoever for many. Because all those things are fun! Tempos range from slow and torturous, to mid-paced and malevolent, to wild and uncontrolled frenzies. Consequently the listener never knows what to expect and is constantly messed with.

On top of the pounding backing ideas, there are sometimes basic melodies which aren’t so much about sounding all serious and sophisticated, but are creepy and unpretentious. The guitar solos in this album are skilled, but are more about creating a sense of chaos and tension rather than amazement. Possibly because of the guitarist’s competent, but not exactly virtuoso style, or perhaps because he’s simply good at expressing himself, his lead tone comes across as very cold and chilling, rather than complex and tasteful. Kind of think ‘Freezing Moon’ by Mayhem. You know in Spinal Tap when Nigel plays his incredibly noisy live guitar solo, sometimes with a violin? Well the guitar break in Manipulation’s ‘Slave Of The System’ sounds just a little bit like that! But in a good way and less atonal. 

In conclusion, this is solid extreme metal with an abundance of ideas. Such ideas are mostly kind of cliched with their frequent root note chugging and chromatic/exotic scale abuses but other than that, there isn’t much to criticise if you’re looking for a pure adrenaline experience. This isn’t ultra technical stuff with constant spectacular pyrotechnics from the guitars and with extended solos from the drums, rather those instruments are about outsmarting you and finding the best way to attack you whilst making you think at the same time. I’m sure most DM fans will appreciate this effort and it is recommended listening for those who aren’t afraid of migraines. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann