Manatees album review – Helvellyn

Instrumental post-metallers Manatees surrender to the slow burn with new album

Manatees album cover

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It’s not often you want to lie down and close your eyes while listening to a metal band, but instrumental noise unit Manatees are as chill as the sea-dwelling creatures they take their name from.

Their latest and final album almost didn’t see the light of day after the label it was originally meant to be released on collapsed and the band went on ‘indefinite hiatus’ in 2012.

Now released on Shelsmusic, Helvellyn is by turns as smooth and rolling and jagged and unpredictable as the Cumbrian mountain it’s inspired by, starting off with the ethereal Helvellyn I, over which the Islamic call to prayer dances on foreboding sonic monoliths of reverb and guitar. As the pace builds throughout the six booming, but gently melodic, tracks – the shortest of which is six minutes – the sense of an arduous climb increases, before a storm breaks at the summit with the pounding ferocity of 10-minute long closer Helvellyn VI. It’s a triumphant, textured and stirring outro, and best played loud.