Post–Rock and Metalcore. This is an interesting amalgam of styles that actually comes off quite well in the hands of N. Tesla. It’s not something super obvious, and if one can’t get past the “bad cop” vocals, it may fall on deaf ears, but Lux Manifesto is a damn decent album from this Oryol, Russia based quintet.
What strikes me hardest about Lux Manifesto is the predominance of vocals, which is fairly unusual for post metal of almost any variety. What could be a weakness for some is actually done quite well here. Vocalist Dima would keep up very well with most “regular” heavy bands, and here, in such a tweaked atmosphere, his voice shines without polluting the product. It’s also nice that the lyrics, when decipherable, are fairly intelligent and not at all cheesy.
Songs are structured interestingly, but slightly repetitively. You have your slow heavy parts, your metalcore fusion of hardcore mantra and breakdowns and then the places that breathe, putting the post decidedly smack dab in the middle of the whole sandwich. All of this is done with aplomb and grace, even when it’s a brutal kind.
Production is very good here. The afore mentioned vocals are buried just enough to keep them semi-atmospheric. Guitars are solid and, though varied in texture, serve every part of the song. The solos (yup, it’s metalcore-ish, of course there are guitar solos,) are very good, and some of the slow tremolo bar dive bombs these guys do are unconventional but very rad. There are times of jazzy breakout, such as at the midpoint of “Determination of Giants” where the bass is standout, and it sounds smooth with just a tinge of edge to keep the energy. There’s a little Mars Volta love here, and in some of the time changes across the album. The drums, though played very well, are a little shallow sounding. I would have liked a little more snare definition.
There are a few samples, which for the most part integrate well. The exception to this is on the second track, “North. Spring. Aurora.” Where a certain electronic harbor bird, that sounds like it came from the eighties Glen Frey tune “Smugglers Blues,” or some other Miami Vice boat chase scene (maybe it’s Jan Hammer) is played over and over to the point of silliness. Now, this may be due to the fact that I’m just mistaken as to how it was made, and its some sort of fancy instrument trick that I’m not familiar with, but I doubt it. I just think it’s on this record way too much.
Beyond that small gripe, I can only recommend N. Tesla to anyone interested in, ahem, the heavier things.