My Heart Is Crying at Wounded Knee...
Taken from the tape booklet: „It’s beyond understanding – all Indian gods, who were always loved by redskins and were never hurt by them, appeared to be too weak in the presence of the only god, who helped pale-faces though they, when he descended on Earth, crucified him. How can we fight against such a god, who fell in love with his own murderers?” All right, the next thing: look at the band’s name and the album’s title or members names. Is everything clear? I hope so. The members of this Polish band from Ostrołęka city are the eulogists of culture and traditions of North American Indians. Is it honest or not, I’m not going to be a judge of their consciences. And to put it briefly, Manitou is very…
…mysterious crew. Yes, I found only two mentions in the past, one in Cursed zine #2 and another in Polish edition of Metal Hammer from 1993 from which I took the address and wrote a letter to the band. The rest is simple. But let’s back to the musical side of the “Wounded Knee” debut album. For sure it is not a thing for modern kind of metallers. For sure the worshippers of nowadays ultra-technical productions can forget about these tunes, because I deal with very archaic method of sound realization. But it is not an obstacle, this material is just another album which has been produced on the beginning of the 90s. And what is more, I’m truly obsessed by it, especially when the bass lines fill the air and dominate the rest of instruments. Really, it is rather seldom to hear such bass recording coming from those dark times, of course I don’t write about big names, as Manitou was in deep underground. Ok, bass is perfect, but the guitars should be louder a bit, especially when they are kept down by the drums.
Musically no surprises can be found while listening to it. The term death/thrash describes the style in a good way, but I want to add doom as well. The Poles took the main part of influences from UK death metal scene (old Benediction, Bolt Thrower), but Swedish touch is also perceptible especially in the only instrumental title piece. Those mentioned death/doom shades reminding me of the very first The Chasm releases appearing in slow yet quite melodic guitar layers. The main information concerning the musical quality is that there is no song with the identical tempo. The musicians give a full kaleidoscope of rhythms and paces in every track. Each step seems to be well-thought-out, just take a listen to the guitar leads, they are all almost mid-paced, heedful and precise, only “Excalibur” contains the fast one, a bit chaotic. Melody is given in a proper way, it is not impudent or sweet and doesn’t soften the sound, yet it brings some kind of secrecy and revery (“Begin from the Sin” or the opening of “A Blaze of Ritual Fire”). Vocals of Ta - Tunka Scah are maintained in middle range of typical growls, however there is nothing to be ashamed of, also in “Dead Indian Traditions” some verses are sung in Polish and I consider this as a really good move. In turn in “Begin from the Sin” vocals are overlapped.
My complaints refer to two things only. The first one is the unconvincing opening intro “20. 12. 1890” (I have been always wandering about this date, as the Wounded Knee massacre took place on December, 29th) played with very average keyboards parts and this isn’t good start definitely. Such an opening with this title has to break my heart, oblige to feel the atmosphere of those tragic whiles. In the case of this one minute intro nothing of that sort can be experienced unfortunately. The second thing is less unpleasant and concerns the last track. “Mass Depression” is the longest one amongst the rest with all the positive stuff I mentioned above. Anyway the ending twenty seconds of the song are calm and not so furious moments and the album ends unexpectedly. I have just been left alone in the surrounding silence… and I don’t like it. Through all these years with “Wounded Knee” still I have the similar feelings as it was on the start: wrong intro and ‘strange’ closure.
To sum all the things up: it’s a good portion of ancient music for every metal hunter. Manitou is a really forgotten band, yet it’s worth a listen definitely. Crude, raw and varied uncompromising sounds, all are good definitions. For sure it was something new on the scene: without Satan, hell, church burning, killing sadness and melancholy. The band had completely original concept on the Polish (world?) scene and it didn’t become banal or childish. Sadly, the band died without any words of explanation. My huge sentiment to this tape has also an influence on the final mark. The tape which is 21 years old and still alive! And still I have many pleasant moments during listening to it.
(written on April, 2014)