White Manna - Bleeding Eyes album review

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White Manna - Bleeding Eyes album artwork

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White Manna seem to live by that old maxim of not fixing anything that ain’t broke. The same imperatives that drove their self-titled debut of 2012 – rampaging space rock, locked riffs, overdriven guitars – have now sustained the quintet over five albums. Yet this doesn’t mean they’re stuck for ideas. Rather, their adherence to the intangible mysteries of fuzz-heavy psychedelia feels like a statement of faith, the band exploring a rich niche of music with an ambitious fervour that borders on the devotional. Bleeding Eyes, their sixth outing, is the kind of howling mindfuck that aligns them to Carlton Melton and The Black Angels. Regular engineer Phil Manley is at hand, helping leader David Johnson shape these compositions into vast, open-ended grooves. The devilish riff of Vimanas is joined by a vocal that sounds beamed in from some distant Californian mountaintop. The title of Speed Dagger is a pretty good indicator of the pleasures within, as heads-down Stooges meet Spacemen 3. Trampoline takes 60s garage rock and bends it through a psychedelic lens, while Freak speeds along on a motorik rhythm. Breathless and intense, it’s everything we’ve come to expect.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.