Album Review: 200 Stab Wounds – Manual Manic Procedures

Album Review: 200 Stab Wounds – Manual Manic Procedures
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Few death metal acts today have blown up as deservedly quickly as 200 Stab Wounds; for years the band had been a fringe spectacle, but as of late and following their debut album release the band have become a notable act to follow. Formed in 2019 out of Ohio, United States, the band’s first demonstration of their prowess manifested in 2020’s Piles Of Festering Decomposition EP, and only a year later we finally got their long-awaited first full length record: Slave To The Scalpel. Arguably the breakthrough the band had been vying for, their name soon exploded into the underground metal scene and has since followed suit with a number of tours including their first run of UK shows, in support of Cattle Decapitation earlier this year. Now, with news of a second album on the horizon and new guitarist Raymond Macdonald stepping up, whose past experiences consist alongside of Frozen Soul, Golgotha and live Tribal Gaze performances, 200 Stab Wounds seek to firmly cement their prestigious reputation with Manual Manic Procedures, slated for a June 28th release date, now signed on to Metal Blade Records.

It takes all of a minute for 200 Stab Wounds to demonstrate that their first album was no mere fluke; in the opening sequence alone the band subject you to such a deluge of bass and tone that it immediately raises your eyebrows and gets your gooseflesh rising. With that said, you can feel the massive spike in confidence herein as opposed to Slave To The Scalpel; everything feels bigger and bolder, but their riffs and general performance is much more in your face. In many ways, the band have shed their earlier skin and grown a much more robust exterior; their riffs and basslines aren’t simply playing for you, they’re basically running straight through your flesh and tendons and bone. The aesthetic this record establishes is one whereby their fists are clenched at all times and 200 Stab Wounds, with much more experience coming into this record, are looking to show what they’re really made of.

I feel the vocals have definitely taken a step up in quality too as, much like the instrumentation, it’s done holding back and is now seeking to thoroughly dismember you. There’s a savagery and lethality contained within their frontman’s performance as he’s not putting a snarl on his words as much as he’s foaming at the mouth. His timbre perfectly complements the band’s nihilistic, depraved attitude as one can imagine his vocals lining up exactly with the album artwork. Between artwork, songwriting and vocals, everything binds together to craft a record that’s done playing nice and is ready to let loose at last. But the vocals aren’t merely the single kind of delivery; for the most part they’re these baritone bellows that sink to a deep chasm and then roar from below, but they can also be these sharper, more instantaneous uttering that leave little room to prepare for. So, whether the vocals are the guttural or stabbing kind, the band give us plenty to work with, and it’s effective when taking the songwriting it’s coupled with into account too.

Album Review: 200 Stab Wounds – Manual Manic Procedures

As you dive into this album, one of the first things you’ll pick up on is the sheer mass the bass exerts on you. 200 Stab Wounds manage to craft a cavernous crushing record without going too hard on your senses; it’s just the right amount of crushing bass inherent within the mix to render their performance with the seething malice exhibited throughout their live shows. It ties back into that wish to showcase their full prowess and I appreciate how they still seek to accomplish this even during the shorter tracks. That commanding production is noticeable at every moment of the record, but it’s not simply loud and pummelling, though it is, but the production manages to encapsulate your entire person. Once you’re inside this record, the band effectively lock you in and though you always have the choice of stepping out and diving back in later on, the band give you a reasoning as per why you shouldn’t. It’s a hypnotically devastating piece, but the kind where you’ll be blessed to have become its latest thrall.

I do believe this record goes into more detail ascertaining to the band’s retro death metal influences. There are segments dotted throughout its runtime that would be absolutely organic within Morbid Angel’s or Cannibal Corpse’s own songwriting however, 200 Stab Wounds have more than enough of their own identity herein that it never at any moment feels like the band are vying for a crutch to lean on. It comes down to the band’s variety of tempo utilised; though the band are extremely adept at playing with speed and no doubt these new tracks will go down a storm at live shows, it’s during their steadier, moodier pieces that the true, full power of this band manifests. It’s during the prolonged notes that their tone emanates, and the crunching yet stomping vibe their riffs possess coming to fruition. I’m not stating I prefer one kind over the other, but it’s wonderful to see the band putting this much thought into tempo and riff variety throughout their songwriting; their mid-way track “Led To The Chamber/Liquified” could have been a typical instrumental break, but the band decided instead it would just be a three minute pandemonium, a war captured in sound, but then threw in macabre keys which is certainly a first in my recollection of the band’s output.

In conclusion, Manual Manic Procedures is an utterly blinding release that’s guaranteed to swivel some heads upon its June 28th release. Slave To The Scalpel was an excellent opening album for a great many people to get on board with their sound, but now they’ve got more experience, and following whatever feedback they may have received from that record, this second album of theirs not only vastly improved but expands upon everything 200 Stab Wounds have yet thrown out to us. Right from the opening minutes I knew this would be a sublime listen, owing to their retro influences but also how they’ve managed to take that and still morph it into a sound reminiscent of what 200 Stab Wounds so far stands for: unbridled slaughter. If their first record didn’t get people on board, Manual Manic Procedures certainly will and is assured to launch the band into higher echelons of modern death metal. A volcanic release not more than half an hour long, 200 Stab Wounds have hit a homerun and one can only imagine where the band dare yet go from here. Put on your mouth guard, get the gloves up and be ready. 200 Stab Wounds are coming for you.

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.