Just because New Year’s Eve is now in our rearview mirror doesn’t mean we have to stop with the fireworks displays, and man, have we got a musical fireworks display queued up for you today, one that will pop eyes, drop jaws, and leave listeners in a state of (perhaps deranged) joy.
The source of the head-spinning adventure that awaits you is a track from the debut album by Heavy Meta (no, that’s not a typo) from Lowell, Massachusetts. Mana Regmata is the name of this mind-scrambling full-length, and it’s set for release on February 11th. It defies genre categorization because it pulls from so many different wells, both metal and not-metal. The band themselves, with tongues in cheeks, brand it as “blackened progressive cowboy nintendocore”, which is really just a way of signifying that labels don’t make much sense here.
Further evidence of that (apart from the music itself) can be found in PR materials for the album that are making the rounds, which ask you to imagine what would happen if Sikth joined forces with Every Time I Die, Botch, Voivod, Mr. Bungle, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Rush, while also dropping references to Candiria, Faith No More, Converge, Atheist, King Crimson, Coroner, Boss Keloid, and Abigor.
If that’s not sufficiently confounding, you might also consider that three of the band’s four members have spent time in the progressive black metal band In Human Form (whose latest album III was released in 2019 by I, Voidhanger Records). The album’s lyrical themes are also interesting… but we’ll come back to that. For now, let’s focus on the fireworks display, which takes the form of an album track named “Blastocyst“.
A hard-rocking, hard-charging drum-and-cymbal groove keeps the song grounded at first, while the guitars and synths jolt and dart, squirm and screech, and the vocalist shrieks his lungs out. But soon enough that drum rhythm starts shifting… repeatedly… and becomes almost as thrillingly discombobulating as the continued dementia displayed by the rest of the manic and morphing instrumentation and the hair-on-fire vocal extremity. Make no mistake, the drumming will still open up hairline fractures in your cranium, it just keeps you more up on your toes.
Meanwhile, the mood of the surrounding music briefly diverges from one of unhinged exhilaration to a feeling of bleak hopelessness, a short stretch of beleaguered surrender before the band quickly kick in the afterburners and the adrenaline again, creating another surge of head-spinning, spider-fingered and fleet-limbed, extravagance.
It’s easy to get carried away by the sheer exuberance of all the kaleidoscopic permutations, but not so spun around that you don’t notice how remarkable the technical execution is — it’s the kind of top-shelf instrumental talent that manages to make the music sound both insane and surgically precise.
We mentioned the lyrical themes. They are described as “exploring feelings of isolation and ideas about both individual and societal betrayal through wry, tongue-in-cheek humor,” with samples chosen to reflect these themes. For example, the album is bracketed by clips from the infamous 911 call made by Tony Kiritsis as he held his mortgage broker hostage at gunpoint (and speaking of wild stories, if you’re not familiar with that kidnapping, you can get educated by going here).
When asked for further comment about these subjects and the music, the band replied as follows:
“The Chronicle of St. Tony, to wit: Betrayal, Anger, justifiable Paranoia, a descent into Madness: some reflections thereupon, with related materials, set to exuberant Tunes from the Youth of Decades Past, laboriously Fractured & Reassembled for your Edification & Listening Pleasure; all offered herewith, in hope of your Indulgence”.
Mana Regmata was a DIY creation. It was recorded and produced by the band in their own studios over the past year. The eye-catching cover art was created by the band’s bassist, Kishor Haulenbeek, known for his visual art crafted for groups such as Afterbirth (Willowtip Records), Rannoch, In Human Form, and others. Kishor also mixed Mana Regmata, with mastering handled by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East.
In addition to Kishor Haulenbeek (who also performed Bass Synth, keyboards, and provided backing/clean vocals and a guitar solo on “Vicious Wishes”), Heavy Meta‘s line-up incudes vocalist Patrick Dupras (In Human Form), drummer Rich Dixon (In Human Form), and guitarist Phill Trudel (who also performed Guitar Synth and did Midi Programming).
Mana Regmata is up for pre-order now. Check the links below, and also be sure to check out “Worms“, the first-released song from the album.