Mangrenade is the type of band that can spit a mouthful of the angriest venom in your face and make you smile about it. Their music assaults you with a 'Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse' attitude.
Severed Part One, their just-released project on Red Moth Records, is a pretty drastic and heavier departure from their 2013 EP, Lions in the Parking Lot, which was far smoother and groovier. Severed is much more ferocious and propelled by head-banging power and fist-pumping energy. This 'new sound' for Mangrenade can easily be likened to late 1980's West Coast heavy metal.
As much fun as this band has making this kind of music, it would be quite wrong to consider it a parody. I like to think of it as an homage to the time of my misspent youth, when Headbanger's Ball ruled the late-night MTV airwaves and Riki Rachtman looked like a complete tool sitting next to the likes of Lemmy Kilmister or Ronnie James Dio. Mangrenade's approach to the music is sincere without taking themselves too seriously.
The men behind Mangrenade are Nick Thieme on guitar, Ben Morgan on bass and Jake Townsend on drums. Thieme and Morgan share lead vocals and complement each other quite well in doing so.
Some serious respect also has to be paid to Nick Thieme who did the production on the album. I think this brand of heavy metal can often be one of the most difficult to record. With so much distortion and overdrive, the guitar signal can easily become paper-thin and the bass can become flatulent. Likewise, it is a tough balance to give that much thunder to the drums without losing the clarity - some engineers will try to compensate by pushing the high-end which results in a tinny-ness in the cymbals. It is a significant challenge to represent that much loudness without pushing the sound over the cliff. Nick does this very well.
Of the four songs on Severed Part One, my favorites are "Made it Easy" and "End of the World." Both songs open quite powerfully and maintain their energy through the entire track. They also both deal with the subject matter of finality - one with the end of a relationship, the other with the end of humanity. "Made it Easy" wins in the category for 'best lyrics' with lines like:
Your stubborn will and my stubborn guilt,
Our stubbornness could cost us even more.
You're shoving me and I'm crawling back,
Your power here is temporary, Jack.
But sonically, "End of the World" takes the prize - particularly for the cool integration of sound effects that help drive the chorus of the song.
One thing that intrigues me about Severed Part One is the obvious implication in the title that there will most likely be a Part Two coming in the future.If Mangrenade made such a dynamic sound and style shift between Lions in the Parking Lot and this album, I'm curious, to say the least, to hear what they might have in-store for us next time.
Severed Part One is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp - and pretty much anywhere else cool music is sold.
The band has several shows lined up in the near future in support of Severed Part One, including shows in Lexington and Dayton. If you're looking for a high-energy good time, check out their website for a list of live shows coming your way soon.