Led by multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder (also of Cobalt,) Man’s Gin are releasing the follow up to their debut album (Smiling Dogs,) entitled Rebellion Hymns. If you believe that the band is similar sounding to Cobalt, you are gravely mistaken. Accompanied by an arrange of great musicians such as Bruce Lamont (Yakuza,) Jarboe, John Lamacchia (Candiria) and Phil McSorley (Cobalt), Man’s Gin’s music is influenced by a wide range of different genres, some of which make almost no sense putting together, but the result not only does it work, but is fucking brilliant.
In its core, Rebellion Hymns, is an acoustic album that incorporates elements from folk, gothic, blues, country, southern rock and psychedelia among many more. The tone of the album is quite melancholic and distressed, with songs that manage to retain certain openness about them giving the whole album a more grand feeling. The incorporation of unconventional of instruments such as cello, accordion and harmonica further increase the diversity of the band.
From the nice opening track of the album, “Inspiration” the southern aura of the album is present in all its glory, with the accordion adding another flavor to the atmosphere of the track. It is then followed by one of the probably most heartbreaking moments of the album, “Varicose,” which will bring you to your knees. At least after that they do not kick you while you are down, with “Off The Coast of Sicily” and its disturbing start that suddenly transforms to a grandiose track, with the cello sounding absolutely brilliant.
Three interludes are featured in the album, all of which are untitled (or rather titled “---“ for some reason) and are used either to build up the ambiance of Rebellion Hymns. “Never Do The Neon Lights,” one of the most upbeat songs of the album, with an almost Pearl Jam vibe to it, contradicts the much more upsetting element of the previous track, “Old House (Bark At The Moonwalk),” in which the members of Man’s Gin use repetitive themes on top of which they start to experiment with different ways of how to make your skin crawl (in a good way though,) with a guitar solo near the end of the song still sounding brilliant.
The more melancholic vibe of the album is resumed with the unbelievable “Deer Head & The Rain,” with the hand drums and the acoustic guitar leading the way, taking you through a vast labyrinth of spiraling effects while hypnotizing you in the process with their stunning rhythms, and the ending of the song having somethingSwans-esque about it. The instrumental “Cellar Door” comes in offering you a way out (just for a couple of minutes though) of Rebellion Hymns, but obviously the journey is too intriguing for you to stop there and soon enough you hear the “Sirens” calling.
The way the next to last song of the album progresses is astonishing, starting of just with the beautiful acoustic guitar it suddenly transforms to a heavy drums part with the acoustic guitar still painting the scenery around you. The fast pace is brilliant, building up the anticipation, and then it suddenly drops for the vocals to come in. The way the tempo changes make you feel constantly tense and the track unexpectedly unleashes the closest thing that you will hear to a blastbeat in Rebellion Hymns before Man’s Gin let it go. And then the closing track, “Hibernation Time,” takes over. With the acoustic guitar and vocals kicking off the song in a minimalistic sort of way, with the other instruments joining in revealing the full force of the band a couple of minutes in. From that point on the calm gives way to the storm and vice versa, escalating out of control until it is laid to rest about seven minutes. The next four minutes are just silence and then they give place to… let’s just say you need to hear that for yourself, no point in spoiling a surprise such as the one Man’s Gin have in store for you.
Rebellion Hymns is not an album you can get used to easily. It needs some time to grow on you, but it totally makes up for it. It is one of these albums that can actually help you break the bonds of reality and send your mind traveling in places you never even thought could exist. And that makes it an excellent listen.
8.5 / 10
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