Review: Man Destroyed Man, [Know Thy] Self-Titled EP (Self-Released, 2021)

New Jersey four-piece Man Destroyed Man (find 'em on Facebook and/or Instagram) consists of three former members of Elements DEC—Larry Cooney (vocals), Scott St. Hilaire (guitar), and John Doherty (bass)—along with drummer Anthony Amodeo (formerly of All Parallels), so... anyone that's followed this site even halfway closely over the years knows that I'm about to fan out in a major way right now. I could go on and on about some of the members' other résumé highlights, but the EDEC connection is the most applicable to what Man Destroyed Man has to offer. Make no mistake, however: this is different. The vocals, for example, are a hint more aggressive and tone down Elements DEC's hip-hop influence; while the songwriting is more streamlined and simplistic in that it gets in, gets out, and leaves you wanting more.

"Calculated Combustion" is the perfect opener, kicking in and setting the tone with a catchy form of energy right away. Lightly thrashy palm-muting and some nice cymbal flare leads into a few EDEC lyrical throwbacks with references to "hesitation is still the enemy" and "the game still ain't the same" during the breakdown toward the end.

Being the nerd that I am, I totally flipped for "The Long Con (Man See Man Do)" because I instantly recognized that it was built out of an old instrumental framework dating back to 2010, when some of these guys first attempted to write new music together. Further establishing substance, its lyrics are pretty pointed toward the darkness of  today's political environment—especially in the U.S.—which continues on a wider scale into "Upside Down is Flipped."

"Unnatural Causes" then turns an eye toward the environmental distress of recent years. It's damn tough for me to choose a favorite track herein, but this just might be it. Crunchy, melodic, and surprisingly concise, this particular composition really emphasizes the focused efficiency of the songwriting—barely hitting the two-minute mark!

Closer "Dance of Death (The Spectre)" takes by far the most personal approach from a lyrical standpoint, dishing out some slickly winding arpeggios along the way—illustrating the group's atypical approach to influences that would likely be deemed "post-hardcore."

For the most part, this EP's an entirely D.I.Y. effort. I believe each member tracked their parts at home and shared files back and forth, meaning that—due to the pandemic—the band has never even practiced in the same room as one another since forming last year. Those circumstances considered, I'm pretty blown away by how solid this material sounds as well. Sure, it ain't Trax East, but hot damn, there's a well-balanced mix with dashes of added layering and panning, a prominent bass presence (which very much matters when Doherty's involved), and—again, I can't help but compare back to Elements DEC—I dig that the guitar tone retains some of that unique sheen that gave the EDEC recordings a certain identity. Striking—and quite disparate—front and back cover art compliments of Keith Rondinelli, too.

My guess would be that [Know Thy] Self-Titled EP is probably going to remain a digital-only release. For now, you can grab it on Bandcamp for less than a buck a song. It'll be hitting Spotify and the other usual sources on February 19. At five songs in just 13 minutes, I've already listened to this shit a ton since I bought it the other night, and you know damn well I can already state that this will be one of my favorite releases of 2021. I'm beyond psyched that this project has taken shape, and will be vigorously crossing my fingers for more...

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