Far too often do we delegate all the praise to founders, inventors, and originators. The glory is given far too easily to those who concoct crazy notions that accidentally work out, and not enough to the later generations who perfect the discoveries. With an October 2011 release date, the debut album from Oh, Manhattan is a decade behind the origins of post-hardcore, yet Spiritual Warfare perfectly packages every lesson we’ve learned through the genre into an album that would make their predecessors proud.
Rather than being a bane, the influences heard throughout the record are endearing, working in unison to form a perfect post-hardcore release. There’s a fair share of Every Time I Die throughout the album in both vocalist Hance Alligood’s screams and the playing of guitarists Kodi Gray and Chris Branton; the music has that riff-heavy southern feel while blending in Funeral For A Friend-type leads and All That Remains‘s soft transitions to create a tasty mix that hits just right. As expected, the vocals trade between screams and cleans in that classic way we expect, only in a manner that hardly feels tired. No act in this field can pass without some solid skins work, and drummer Shane Jackson makes sure to show he’s right there with the best by choosing when to shine and when to support the cast. In essence, the sum of all parts is exactly what you’d require of a post-hardcore release in a polished fashion that will renew your interest over and over again.
The solid instrumentation would be enough to warrant repeated listens to Spiritual Warfare, but it’s Alligood who separates the band from the pack. Most bands are employing two bad haircuts to handle the rough and clean vocals; Hance handles both himself, performing each role at an expert level. Those aforementioned screams demand your attention in their wildness and width, with Alligood easily transitioning from timely shouts to savage yells in an instance. What Hance provides in vocal talent is aided greatly by fantastic melodies and thoughtful lyrics provided by Gray and original vocalist Donny Thomas; as (Alli)good as the record sounds, it’s the passion and energy of Gray and Thomas’ contributions that allow Hance to really shine as a premiere singer.
The all-inclusive Oh, Manhattan tracks are “Mercury In The Water” and “The Anti DaVinci” (streamed above), utilizing every trait praised above. By using clean vocals sparingly until the outro of the track, “Guilty Blessings Pt. II” makes an epic ending to the album’s opener. Not mentioning closer “Ian Curtis” would be a travesty, as Alligood lets loose his most vicious scream and his most eye-opening harmonies with soul-wrenching lyrics. The other six tracks filling out Spiritual Warfare are equally important, making this one of the best heavy full-lengths I’ve heard in some time.
It’s a difficult task to listen to similar bands after hearing Oh, Manhattan’s debut; you’ll notice every flaw in your old favorites now that these Georgia boys have shown you perfection. It doesn’t get any better than this.