Review: Heaven Grey – Manuscriptum

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Written by Kelly Schroeder

Within the walls of Manuscriptum, Latvia’s Heaven Grey beckons listeners to fall under the spell of their latest full length album and submit to the joyride of gloom and despair.  Starkly contrasting elements are stitched together in every aspect of their nine song creation.  Deep, clean vocals from Artūrs Fishers are paired against his anguished growls, while melodic, clear guitar riffs slither over the drive and intensity of bass and drums.  Melancholy strings and delicate piano drift in and out of the mix, syncopating and punctuating each song with unique personality.

‘Insomnia’ opens the show with somber, dissonant strings and a satisfyingly lengthy instrumental intro.  Double bass and a compelling guitar riff whisk you away into the bleeding heart of the song and wrap you in doleful lyrics. Coming out of the gate with a heavier crunch, ‘Drown in My Shade’ maintains an attack that grows steadily more aggressive throughout the track.  ‘Theatre of Shadows’ falls back on haunting strings and piano to lead in the heavy punch of the band and layers both styles of vocals in a skillfully constructed countermelody during the chorus.

‘Sirds Balss’ translates roughly to “the voice of one’s heart.”  In this instance, it comes to us as the most consistently heavy song on the album–driving, powerful all the way through and completely absent of clean vocals.  A seemingly funereal organ intro rings in the almost jaunty piano line of ‘I Belong to the Dead’.  Dramatic and anthemic, this song explores a fine line between fitting in perfectly with Manuscriptum as a whole, and sticking out in the sharpest contradiction.

‘When the Mist Falls’ sets the scene with solid, moody guitar and breaks in a nice drum build up to a raw, primal growl.  Fishers demonstrates his ability to harshen his clean vocals enough that they simply merge into his growling, or maybe it’s the other way around.  ‘False Trust’ blends in as a comfortable, dark addition, and just when you feel yourself growing comfortable with the flow of the songs, Heaven Grey throws you into a new cloud of atmosphere, demanding a closer listen.  The entirely instrumental title track ‘Manuscriptum’ rollercoasters between sections of full symphony, complete with ambient choir, and a plush guitar groove hovering over a steady beat.

Closing out Manuscriptum, ‘The Egoist’ leads in with a guitar and violin intro that immediately facilitates a creepy, disjointed feeling.  In keeping with the formula of many of the other songs, the soft, isolated intro crashes headlong into a full band affair.  Strong guitar riffing reinforces the strings and clean vocals reinforce, almost harmonize with, the harsh vocals.  Overall, Manuscriptum proves itself to be a desolate playground of delightful depression.  It is a complicated endeavor, to be sure, but Heaven Grey lands a punch with their blend of conflicting ingredients.  8/10

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