Unsolicited Manimals Review

Blood Is The Harvest
House of Pain

The neon-spackled cover of Blood Is The Harvest suggests the Manimals were nothing more than a D-grade KISS parody cooked up by the laziest writer on “Barnaby Jones” for one of those “rock music is so crazy these days” episodes. You can almost hear the uptight dialog in your head—“Who are these Manimals? Why are those damn teenagers so into their music? Did they have anything to do with murder of Prudence O’Malley? How come there are two of them made up to look like a cat? By law, aren’t all bands only supposed to have one cat person? Something isn’t adding up here.”

Thankfully, these guys weren’t aping the rudimentary penis jams of KISS—they were aping the rudimentary penis jams of Glenn Danzig! Indeed, the Manimals were horror punk, albeit with a generic FM rock twist. There’s just no avoiding that when you hail from Ohio—even DEVO had their regular meat n’ potatoes guitar record. Thus, the songs on Blood Is The Harvest all stretch past the two minute mark, cramming in wanky solos, middle eights, and vocal harmonizing that desperately wants to evoke Danzig (whom they thank on the back of the record) but comes much closer to Davey Havok from AFI. Same neighborhood, different bar.

Blood Is The Harvest boasts a few fun grave-rattling numbers, like “White Zombie,” “Burn Witch Burn,” and “Island Of Lost Souls” (the melody on that last one will stick in your head like a railroad spike). Unfortunately, the entire record is hampered by thin, ham-fisted production, muting what could have been a much livelier outing. Is there any reason we need to hear everything the drummer is doing so clearly and crisply? I feel like I can almost see my reflection in his brand new Zildjian cymbals. ‘Course, the drum fella here, “Dark,” was the only Manimal not to wear the seemingly requisite cat makeup. He went for some kind of bat thing painted over his eyes, which apparently gave him domain over his band mates (at least when it came to mixing the drums).

At only twenty-six minutes, you’re not really committing to a whole lot when you throw on Blood Is The Harvest. It’s a serviceable entry in the horror / death rock canon, but one that probably isn’t going to whip serious Devil-worshipers into an arm-carving frenzy anytime soon. FYI – this was the only release from the original Manimals line-up. In 1988, the band broke up and faded away into the Midwestern ether for about ten years. Then, on the heels of the Misfits reunion, Dark and bass player Larry the Wolf got together with some fresh meat to release a CD entitled Horrorcore. Allegedly, this reconstituted Manimals is still out there doin’ stuff – they’ve even promised a reissue of Blood Is The Harvest sometime in the next year.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the political leanings of the Manimals, they’re pretty big Republicans. Check out their Myspace page to see video of Larry the Wolf hanging out with Joe the Plumber. Now there’s a ticket for 2012. The Wolf and the Plumber. I bet they’d take at least one state. Probably a Dakota.

FINAL SCORE: Two and a half “Barnaby Jones” references (out of four).

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