As ambitious as it is draining, The Manifesto is an album of hits and misses. However, when it hits, it shakes you to your core.
The Manifesto is the debut release from Clifton, NJ screamo band Our Wits That Make Us Men, and it is pretty daunting at first look. Seventeen tracks is a lot for an album, and I will say right off the bat that going through the entire release in one go left me pretty fatigued at the end of it. It’s a lot to process. However, provided you can make it through the scale of the project, you can find some quality tracks throughout it.
The Manifesto Tracklist:
2. Pine Box
3. Holy Father Franklin
6. Fodder for Dreams
7. No Meaning
11. Death to False Idols
12. Bloody Justice
13. Refugee Song
14. Trigger Warning
15. Save You
16. You Are Love
17. The Silhouettes of Trees
The sound is highly-reminiscent of La Dispute, which is a given considering that the album is a mix of post-hardcore, scream-o and spoken word. The differentiation, however, is that some of the albums more “out there” tracks are really, really weird. It’s very artistic and poetic but if you’re not into that kind of thing or you’re just listening for the music, it’ll throw you off. Nevertheless, if you’re going to take the spoken word route, you need to be pretty artistic with the pen and Dean Scordilis has a way with words. He excels at painting a picture of melancholic despair(“Blood”), he is capable of scathing and unrepentant words of political justice(“Death To False Idols,” “Refugee Song”), and he can imbue you with a sense of hope.(“Manifesto”)
My favorite track on this album was the semi-title track, “Manifesto,” and I feel like I would be committing a great injustice if I didn’t discuss this track in more detail. A major part of this song is a bridge-like part that features “statements of intent” from friends of the band. Things they would like to accomplish before they die. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to a song that uplifted me in such a way. It reminds me of my own dreams and the dreams of my friends around me; a bastion of positive motions from the unwavering voices of youth who haven’t given up yet. Most of all, it reminds me of everyone who didn’t live to get to where we are now. They didn’t have the chance that we have now. We need to seize the opportunity that being alive has given us. To quote the song, “We owe it to ourselves to live! If we have to claw desperately, trying to make something, anything happen, then so be it.”
This album isn’t perfect. As stated before, it can be weird at times and the pure length of the album can be overwhelming. By the end of it, I didn’t want to listen to anything for at least a half hour. However, there are themes and views and sounds that make this album worth listening to. The same can be said about ourselves as people. We’re weird at times, and sometimes we drone on for too long, but we’re worth being heard. And every now and then, just like this album, we’re capable of saying something truly amazing.
The Manifesto was released on April 4th, 2017 and is available for streaming on bandcamp. You can find out more about Our Wits That Make Us Men via their facebook and their instagram.