Mānbryne left a lasting impression as soon as I heard the gorgeous and deceptively simple solo melody of `Pustka, Którą Znam’, a melody that still lingers in my mind to this very day. Of course, there was much more to their debut album `Heilsweg: O Udręce Ciała i Tułaczce Duszy’, but that alien sense of melody draped upon furious Polish Black Metal is still very much etched into my memory. It was the odd song out on the record, and while I certainly wished to see more of it in the future, but the delicate craft of the album more than warranted appreciation. Thus, the coming of the band’s sophomore album ‘Interregnum: O Próbie Wiary I Jarzmie Zwątpienia’ is a more than welcome sight.
For those that similarly were enchanted by that melody, there is no need to let the wound fester any longer than necessary: On the new album there is no song like `Pustka, Którą Znam’. Now before that sounds like a discredit to the record, let me clarify that statement. What that means is that none of the tracks have those overtly placed contrasting melodies in them. Instead, the intricacies of the record are much more subtle and concealed. In that, the album essentially follows the majority of the preceding record. There is still a certain sense of overlap with their compatriots of Mgła, particular in the department of the (drum) dynamics and vocals, together with a noticeable influence of Mayhem and Cultes Des Ghoules as well as the foundation of Bathory. However, Mānbryne is more focussed than ever on the sum of all the parts. Rather than the individual hooks and riffs at the centre of the compositions, the band rather continues to evolve in terms of songcrafting dynamics and subtleties through excellent musicianship.
Opener ‘Piach i niepamięć’ initially appears to have a lot in common with Mgła before taking a more Norwegian turn, but it’s the subtly lingering solo melodies that threaten to surface that charge the song with a tension that continues boiling until it erupts in a short but sweet harmonies. It’s a song where the band showcases the restrained use of melodies with a dynamic rhythmic landscape. The following ‘Suma wszystkich strat’ is one of the most striking tracks on the new record, in its combination of shifting guitar riffs, unsettling strumming, obscured background female chants, eerie keyboard tones and a plethora of vocal inhales that together make for one of the most enchanting songs of the band so far. A more repetitive and hypnotizing approach is taken in ‘Po trupach ku niebu’, a midtempo intense and suffocating track where the drums provide shifting patterns upon an otherwise rather stable background of guitars. This is one of the many examples where the details are hidden deep in the music, and a song that initially doesn’t reveal all its intricacies but upon repeated listens starts to unfold all its layers. In contrast, ‘Grzechy ojców’ blasts straight out of the gate in overwhelming fashion. A vocal inhale is followed by a skincrawling shifting riff with plodding bass and battering drums. Somewhat atonal in nature with subcutaneous melodic undertones, the main riff grabs you straight by the throat and drags you along for the fill journey. The salvation from ferocity does not come until ‘Bezkrólewie’, a short instrumental strumming track with ambient tones and Prog Rock tendencies that allows the bass guitar to shine. It leads into the final onslaught, ‘Pierwszy kamień’, one of the more melancholic songs with haunting background vocals, a ripping solo that escalates into a beautiful melody. As one of the album highlights, it once again displays the excellent dynamics in Mānbryne’s songwriting and musical proficiency in creating a gripping atmosphere and intriguing musical landscape.
While initially it was the hooky nature that drew me to Mānbryne, ‘Interregnum: O Próbie Wiary I Jarzmie Zwątpienia’ further enhances a rather different status of the band. That is one in which impressive shifting drums, intense vocals, thick and adventurous bass and layers of guitars appear to play a rather subtle part but combine into a sum that is much greater than all the individual parts. As a consequence, those looking for the catchy hooks might not notice the craftmanship presented here. It takes a bit of commitment and dedication to fully absorb the subtleties contained within. In the day and age where everything is disposable and for quick consumption the question is whether the album will get the attention it truly deserves, but to those devoted to the cause and aware of the high quality standard of the labels and band involved, there is a treasure trove of Black Metal beauty to discover.