Mannheim ‘Super-Empowered’ Stream And Album Review

By on 25 July 2013

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Nijmegen’s inventive noise rockers Mannheim are streaming their new album ‘Super-Empowered’ with Terrorizer.

‘Super-Empowered’, the band’s debut album, was released on 20 June and is available for purchase via their Bandcamp page, but you can stream it in full right here and read Kez Whelan’s review of the album below.

mannheimsuperJazz and metal have made strange bedfellows over the years, but in our current musical climate the novelty of seeing instruments like the saxophone in a more metal context has dwindled somewhat, with bands like Norwegian nutjobs Shining, Italy’s burly noisemongers Zu and, of course, John Zorn’s pivotal Naked City paving the way for all manner of likeminded bands. As is often the case, the volume of followers is much higher than leaders, but you’ll be pleased to hear Dutch newcomers Mannheim could be pleased firmly in the latter category.

Comparisons to the aforementioned bands will no doubt abound, but in truth Mannheim are quite a different proposition indeed. Whilst no strangers to jazzy, avant-garde skronk, the quartet have an almost sludgy sensibility to them as well – the triumphant, passionate riffing of ‘Hometown’ brings to mind early Baroness, whilst the tumultuous drive of ‘Invisibility’ is strangely reminiscent of some of Kylesa’s more awkwardly timed material.

The saxophone (courtesy of Otto Kokke, one half of Nijmegen’s finest jazz-grind combo Dead Neanderthals) plays a prominent role throughout, without ever becoming overbearing or gimmicky. Whilst obviously not quite as focal as his work with Dead Neanderthals, the sax gels fantastically with the roar of the rest of the band, sometimes letting loose on wilds flights of Zorn inspired fancy, and sometimes taking a backseat in tracks like ‘Invisibility’ to accentuate the low end with a growling, voluminous drone.

‘Super-Empowered’ is an incredibly varied listen, veering between moving, delicate passages to full-on, baffling prog madness and even moments of real evil. The beautiful, dulcet tones of ‘Trojan’, for instance, shimmer out of your speakers with a calm, refreshing ambience, whilst the twisting, labyrinthine patterns of ‘Zugzwang’ recall ‘Larks Tongues In Aspic’ era King Crimson and ‘Watcher’s seriously imposing final segment sounds like the Caspar Brötzmann Massaker jamming out the end of Mayhem’s ‘Freezing Moon’. For new bands, there’s often a danger that by grasping at this kind diversity, you’ll end up as a kind of jack of all trades, flirting with a smörgåsbord of different influences whilst never really forming them into a unified whole, but Mannheim somehow manage to make it work. ‘Super-Empowered’ has a very organic flow to it, and even in its most widely eclectic intervals, the record comes across as a focused, well composed musical journey rather than a disjointed series of disparate ideas.

Fans of Shining and Zu will fall on this like a pack of hungry wolves, but Mannheim have enough honest-to-god riffs to ensure that even those who are normally left scratching their heads when confronted with histrionic prog metal will find much to enjoy here. In short then, this is everything you could want from a debut album!

[8/10] KEZ WHELAN

You can find Mannheim on Facebook, and stream ‘Super-Empowered’ in its entirety below!

About Kez Whelan

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