There’s a massive chance that people will click their way into this article due to the fantastic piece of artwork. Isn’t it just awesome? The vintage, Soviet-influenced imagery is eye-catching. But, well, let’s not drift away. Truth is that Heavy Meta‘s Mana Regmata is a fun spin. It’s complex, dynamic, and foremost intense. Along with my pal Jean Pierre, we spent about two hours debating this album, and the following is what came out. Enjoy our conversation while blasting the available tracks, or the complete full-length if you happen to catch this article after the official release.
Jean Pierre: Yo Rodrigo! How are you doing this fine day? At least its fine for me so far…
Rodrigo: Fine it is for me down here. Excited to get our hands on this album and discuss it for a while.
JP: Absolutely! I am lucky to have stumbled upon Heavy Meta with the premiere Everything Is Noise did last week, otherwise I never would’ve heard of them and completely missed out on it. How’d you come across this group?
R: Yes! I’ve read it. My discovery was less fancy, though. I just picked up the album from our review list. The artwork absolutely got me. It’s very cool, isn’t it?
JP: I cannot disagree with you there – the linework is stunning, and the colors just pop right out at you. Well, that and the tentacles, haha.
R: Haha yes, it’s captivating and fun in a way it represents what’s on the album, the actual music. What about this genre? What would you say it’s like?
JP: I feel it’d be more accurate to say ‘genres’ rather than just genre, as the music is all over the place, in a good way of course. Vocally, it feels to me to be a hardcore-driven record, with sludgy and aggressive instrumentals. The overall compositions of the various songs are very prog metal, though. Every single song is so incredibly dynamic, going back and forth between these various genres in a seamless manner.
I actually had a dream the other day where the only detail that I remember from it was that I was listening to “Cubensis” by Intronaut, off their latest album. I haven’t listened to that song ‘in real life’ in a long while. At first, I couldn’t tell you why I dreamt of that specific song, but ever since listening to Mana Regmata since then, it made perfect sense. Heavy Meta reminds me so much of Intronaut, and I didn’t realize that right away, but my subconscious did somehow.
R: Well, your subconscious self has got some good taste, eh? I guess that’s better than just naming labels or genres. I can agree with almost all you’ve pointed out. I’d only expand on the instrumental prog metal leaning. I perceive it to be closer to bluesy rock and roll as well. Many riffs point me in that direction, somewhat stoner but not really. To be honest, it’s not the kind of music I vibe the most with. However, Heavy Meta’s Mana Regmata definitely has some thick flesh we might as well dissect.
JP: I can see what you mean, as it isn’t prog metal in the same way that Dream Theater or Haken are prog metal, for example. In other words, this isn’t traditional prog metal. I say it in a way that shows how dynamic and fluid all these tracks are. Sonically, the music sounds very different from prog metal with this sludgy yet also bluesy brand of hardcore, but song structure-wise, it screams prog metal to me. The songs are very organic and always evolving into something else as they progress.
The instrumentation itself has moments where its very complex and I really struggle to follow along with the rhythm at first, but it starts to make sense after a few listens and it’s satisfying as all hell. I can see a tiny bit of stoner influence in Intronaut’s music, for example, so that doesn’t seem far-fetched at all when describing Mana Regmata if you ask me. There are many layers to the music here other than what lies at the surface. Let’s peel those layers back a bit, yes?
R: Let’s do it. Picking up on your previous descriptions, I would first dive into the album’s sound, for it sounds as you might expect it. Vocals have got some crispness, but are layered a bit backwards with the use of reverb. This separates it from the instrumental in a way that provides space, and boy, we need space for sure. Guitars are constantly harmonizing or arranging each section differently. It makes the music wide. Combined with the energy, it’s slams your face back and forth. Super fun.
Also, there is something that, as a drummer, I can’t quite decide on whether if I enjoy it or not.
JP: What do you mean by that? Is it kind of something that unsettles yet also excites you at the same time?
R: Absolutely! That would be the kick drum sound, to be specific. Maybe it’s not as relevant as I might deem it to be; however, if you listen carefully, the kick drum is placed in the mix with tons of high-frequency information. That’s not how I would’ve expected it to go, as it’s airy, even click-y. It sure provides an organic vibe to the drums, yet it sounds as if it’s the only way that it could fit in. However, it’s a ballsy move because it’s an element that can either work perfectly or completely throw someone off. Think of St. Anger’s snare sound: it’s a make-or-break decision for the listener. Not sure if I managed to explain myself, but it’s worth noting. It speaks of the band’s courage to do something unexpected and stick with it.
JP: Nah, that totally makes sense. I am not a drummer myself, so it wasn’t something I had picked up on at all. When I get back to listening to the album again, I will try to pay extra close attention to see if I can pick up on that, although I don’t expect that I’d be able to do that, since I’m merely a pleb when it comes to stuff like that.
Moving past that, one of my favorite things about this record is the subtle background orchestration that is present on a few tracks, notably “Worms” and “Psalm IV”. These tracks in particular have moments in which the chaos dies down a little bit, allowing the music to breath and give the listener some smooth atmospheric passages with mad groove. During those times, you hear this moving string accompaniment that sounds as if it came straight out of Opeth’s Damnation (“Windowpane” specifically) in the case of “Worms”. I’d have to say “Worms” is probably my favorite track, as the complex riffs here really do worm their into your ears in a way that it inhabits my subconscious, hahaha.
R: Yep, I can totally agree with that. In fact, those two songs you mentioned are probably my favorites as well. “Boötes Void” creeps in to fill the top three. Riffs work their way to places where dissonance feels like the safest way to go, and that reminds me of Opeth, too. As you said, there is much groove as well. What I like about that is, once again speaking of the drums, that the parts are super busy, but interesting. I mean, the drummer could have easily played it safe and kept straight patterns. It would probably work, but it wouldn’t make it as tangling and cool, for sure.
JP: That is it. The spiraling percussion is the tentacles portrayed on the album artwork that entangle you and reel you in. If the artwork didn’t draw you in, the mind-boggling rhythms will.
R: However, and this may be a big however, it can make the music feel all over the place really fast. I can’t deny the fact that sometimes I felt that in this album. It can truly harm the memorability. Then, it shall be a matter of taste.
If you’re a person with a background in albums like these, you will probably enjoy the riffs stacking over and over. If you’re not used to it, I’m not sure this is an entry point, you know?
JP: I totally get what you mean. The fact that there is little repetition and few hooks (which isn’t a bad thing at all) does mean that the music is going to take more time and effort to get it to stick. It really is purely a matter of taste as you said. If these sprawling, all over the place kind of songs are your jam, then this album will be just what the doctor ordered; otherwise, it won’t really do much for you since it is so much to digest. Despite that, I feel like this album was meant to turn out the way that it was because music like this doesn’t happen by accident, you feel? Everything here is precisely calculated and meant to be a constant mind-fuck.
R: Each song is over six minutes long on average. It does present a challenge to outsiders. On the other hand, it sheds light on the compositional skills, right? “Boötes Void” lurks in as one of my favorite precisely for that. Within that song there are a few key moments that are real highlights. The songs kicks in with a relentless early Mastodon riff that kicks my teeth right in.
Then, somewhere around the three-minute mark, there’s a proggy riff in a half-time vibe that just takes the song to another realm. The band also lures you with some cathedral-esque clean vocals. It just works and keeps me engaged. As I said earlier, this album makes for a fun listen.
JP: With how niche this music already is, I’m sure the main kind of listeners that’ll stumble upon it are those already fully into these complex, somewhat inaccessible tunes. As you said, I do love the clean vocals throughout this record as it really does remind me of Jacob Bannon’s (Converge) distorted cleans that sound as if they’re phasing in and out of your ears; cathedral-esque is a good way to put that. The variety in the vocals is what truly elevated my enjoyment of this record because the harsh vocals, while abrasive as nail, did get to be just a wee bit to grating and the lack of repetition/hooks didn’t particularly help that.
But I want to emphasize that not everything has to stoop down to doing the bare minimum of writing catchy hooks just for the sake of easier retention. Heavy Meta are clearly more than capable enough to compose these constantly evolving songs that are enough to engage you on their own, hooks be damned! That is a testament to their song-writing capability, that is for damn sure.
R: We could go longer and dissect this album ever more, but it will fall within the borders of our conversation. Mana Regmata sings an ode to the unorthodox by crushing your face with ever-evolving riffs, screams, and beats. It dwells right within the limit where the eccentric meets the overwhelming. Some will say it barely sticks to that limit, some will say it goes further. All we know is that Heavy Meta likes their stuff spicy, and so do we.