CD, Vampture Records, 2005
“One Up For The Dying” is the debut album of Anders Manga, an American musician who has been gaining some notoriety as of late among gothic/darkwave/fetish circles. Anders Manga’s music is essentially gothic-rock from the 90’s updated for the present with a full electronic base, the kind of thing that shows that a music genre is not dead and can still evolve.
While not exactly my cup of tea, it’s easy to understand how his music can be appealing when listening to an album such as this. Overall “One Up For The Dying” is an album which remains coherent in terms of style and sound from beginning to end (even if some of the sound coherence might be due to the use of standard sounds) with good track duration. Track placement could be a bit better: even though the album packs quite a punch, especially in the first half where the stronger and catchier tracks are located, it fizzles out in the rather bland second half.
Individually, most of the songs in “One Up For The Dying” show skill and that care was taken with the composition of the music and lyrics. As it is, many tracks are inherently catchy and easy to remember, especially the refrains which are helped by music build-ups and lyrics referring to the song title. Track highlights are, “Solitary Heaven” and the title track “One Up For The Dying”. While the latter is the obvious dance-floor “hit-single”, the former is the “b-side” and also the best track in the whole album, both musically and lyrically. “We Won’t Stay Dead” and the almost-anthem “Shiver” are also tracks worth of notice.
Some tracks are available as free video downloads from the band’s website. Despite (unavoidable) kitsch, these videos usually complement the music and have some good ideas in them (“Solitary Heaven” and “Burn” work particularly well).
While “One Up For The Dying” may not be an outstanding or innovative album, it is a good debut album that will be definitely interesting for fans of the genre and warrant Anders Manga some well-deserved exposure. It won’t be sufrprising if Anders Manga songs would become a regular presence in international ‘darker’ dance-floors.
— M. + ?