Man! This is one LOUD band!
For the best part of fifty-two minutes, the power and maelstrom that is Man In The Woods raged around me. Yes, their new album, ‘Badlands ‘ runs to around fifty-two minutes – that’s a lot of bang for your buck, and I do mean ‘BANG.’
Formed in 2016, this four-piece heavy rock band from Isle of Man released their debut EP, ‘Badlands Part 1‘ in 2018. This consisted four tracks: ‘Icarus Landing‘; ‘Speedeater‘; ‘Toxicology,’ and ‘Angel of Gasoline.’
The intention was to write more tracks that would fit the narrative and release ‘Part 2’ at a later date. But of course, The World took a bit of a wrong turning and, well …
So now, with the additional five tracks written and recorded, the decision was taken to release both parts as one complete tale. Hence the longer than normal length of the new album.
In a sense, it was darkly ironic the pandemic and ensuing worldwide lockdown should delay the project. For the inspiration behind the music of Man In The Woods, is one of desolation; of depopulation; annihilation.
I hate to use the description ‘concept album’ because I think that may create an errant perception, but it is certainly ‘themed’ around the inspiration. in their own words:
” … the album looks at the apocalypse which starts with an alien invasion documented in ‘Signals, Saucers and Satellites.’ The album is not in order of events and we chose to order the tracks in regards to the sound rather than the story. In a way we have ended up with a Pulp Fiction, Citizen Kane narrative setup where sections of the story are not in order. But both those films and the concept is quite cool.
“So once the world has been pretty much depopulated by the invasion we look at individual stories within the same universe that don’t all link into one another but set a scene. If you imagine piecing together lots of letters written during WW1 in order to build up a picture of what people experienced, ‘Badlands’ does a similar thing. ‘Trenchfoot‘ is about the soldiers going to war; ‘Iron Strider‘ is about a lone vigilante type character, like Mad Max, who seeks revenge; ‘Angel of Gasoline‘ is about a priest who sacrifices himself after he believes God has left him. Over all each story hopefully leaves you feeling like it’s a shit environment to live.“
Musically, Man In The Woods have been tagged with just about every ‘heavy’ music related hashtag: ‘stoner,’ ‘doom,’ ‘psych,’ ‘rock,’ ‘desert rock,’ ‘sludge,’ …. it doesn’t really matter. I’ll probably do the same at the end of this piece! Truth is, ‘Badlands‘ really encapsulates them all at various points.
In a nutshell, the music throughout is typified by Marc’s gruff, rasping and growled vocals laying over the top of a heavy and, yes, at times, doom-laden bass line. Christian’s pounding a crushing drums permeate every track, while James and David provide the powerful guitar riffs that drive, rhythm and share some intricate solos.
Album opener is ‘Icarus Landing.‘
‘Speedeater,’ to me sounds a bit like a sped-up ‘stoner’ track, if that makes any sense. ‘The Abduction of Barney Hill‘ follows. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Here’s why:
‘Philosorapture’ maintains the intensity and pace with a buzzing guitar riff, while ‘Toxicology,‘ slows things down a little as the mood seems to darken with more of a rumbling backing. ‘Trenchfoot‘ as you imagine with it being about soldiers being called to war, is angry and totally psyched up; ‘Angel of Gasoline‘ is the shortest, and I believe, the first song the band wrote together. It’s pretty straight up heavy rock, and rages from start to finish.
I’ve so far omitted tracks #5 and # 9. These are the two longest on the album. The former, ‘Iron Strider,’ breaches the ten minute mark, while closer ‘Signals, Saucers, Satellites‘ is only about thirty seconds shy of that.
I did initially wonder about having such lengthy tracks on an album of this overall duration. I needn’t have worried – they are my two favourites of the nine! (‘Iron Strider‘ just shades it, actually.)
Both, to the musically untrained ear at least,follow pretty much the same structure: with slow builds moving to heavy, steady paced mid sections, before picking up pace, bigger riffs and searing guitar towards the final two / three minutes.
And that’s it – and then there was silence.
Man In The Woods touch base with so many rock sub-genres on this album, I’m sure ‘Badlands’ will have such a wide appeal. You can check out the whole album from 29th July on Bandcamp.
Then you can buy it! And play it LOUD!
MAN IN THE WOODS
Marc Vincent – Bass / Vocals
James Oxtoby – Guitar
David Murray – Guitar
Christian Hardman – Drums