Originally written by Ramar Pittance
Start Killing is the two megaton bastard child of all things sonically menacing, and it is knocking at your door.
Hailing from a land where all things brutal rule the day, Glasgow’s Man Must Die manage to pack all the punch of their gore soaked brethren within the construct of unabashedly catchy songs. Perhaps this is a story you think you have heard before. I can already hear the rusty cogs of your brain slowly churning in motion. “It’s another metalcore album!”, you cry in righteous indignation. Faithful reader, I assure you that this album is anything but that. For, even though the occasional passing reference to Bleeding Through may have ran through my head while listening to …Start Killing, I assure the ferocity of this album pegs Man Must Die as closer relatives to acts like All Shall Perish or Neuraxis.
Living up to the the old maxim that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, Man Must Die is a testament to cohesion. John Lee (Regorge) gives an extremely organic and live sounding performance, laying down a thick backbone for each of the songs’ muscular physiques. While Lee doesn’t exactly set any records for speed or complexity in his kit work, he more than makes up for it with his instinctive playing. He knows just when to throw in a well timed fill, and more importantly, when not to. Rounding out the rhythm section is the plunked out bass work of Danny Mcnab, whose complimentary playing more than compensates for the lack of a second guitarist. Andy McFarland is the songwriter of the bunch, and his riff writing displays an appreciation for a vast array extreme metal stylings, past and present. He flows effortlessly from Disincarnate styled tremolo picking one minute to melodic runs that are more evocative of Kreator than In Flames the next. He punctuates it all with rumbling breakdowns a la Skinless. While McFarland may not reinvent the wheel on this release, he must be commended for drawing from a strong stable of influences and arranging his riffs in such an expert fashion.
Drawing all these components together is a production job that is just oppressively dense. The low end rumbles menacingly during the breakdowns and my eyes can’t help but get misty when I listen to these parts and reminisce fondly over Suffocation’s Pierced From Within. The lead guitar parts are mixed perfectly as well, and rarely get lost amidst the chaos, as is often the case on albums of this style. Joe McGlynn’s vocals are nestled comfortably in the mix, and he serves his role as a third percussive instrument quite well as he ranges from low gutturals to blackened screams.
Listening to this album is like watching an Ultimate Fighting Championship Greatest Hit’s compilation. I’m talking old school UFC, back when there were no gloves or weight classes; just fat guys getting kicked in the face by quick guys. At first, your stomach turns a little bit as you think to yourself, “I can’t believe people get off on this.” However, there are those who will inevitably be drawn in by the subtle art of delivering a knuckle sandwich to the face of man desperately struggling for air while he slowly drowns on his own blood-filled breathes. If you’re one of those people, then by all means buy this album. It was crafted for you and your sadistic fascination with sensory distress. If not, I suggest you proceed with caution, as Man Must Die does little to cater to those who are not on board for a grueling, but ultimately cathartic listening experience.