Metal musicians, using their medium to explore their own hurdles, can create a communion between them and their audience as they turn emotional discovery into a shared process. Extreme music’s emotional transference can convert bleakness into a remedy. One-man grindcore band Manipulator subverts this process, drawing directly from hardcore punk’s historical positivity to stress self-actualization (as long as you look past song titles like "Death Machine" and "We Could All Be Dead Instead").

Andrew Notsch—of Sunless, This is the Last Time, and YOUWRETCH—champions self-improvement through volatility on Manipulator’s debut full-length To Settle at the Bottom of Your Own Ocean. Message aside, the album is a nine minute meat tenderizer. Though Manipulator carries hardcore’s consciousness, he is particularly in touch with grindcore’s death metal roots. The hearty riffs and deep throated vocals emphasize a gamier grindcore slab of beefy riffs and strapping vocals. Across the brief (it is grindcore after all) runtime Manipulator varies tempos and approaches, with some tracks favouring an encompassing brutality and others churning in noise.

Stream the album now with our full premiere ahead of its release on August 6th:

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Manipulator seeds self-reclamation into the acrobatic tracks, each riff rallying against internal pessimism and chaotic world states. The closer "We Could All Be Dead Instead" mellows into a baited breakdown, simmering under the counting hi-hat. The eventual release is revelatory more than brutal. It relieves through a deeper acceptance, one offered not just through blast beats, but by striving for health above all else. "We Could All Be Dead Instead" ends with this affectation—closure is a process often found through the harshest means. "Harsh" being up for interpretation; sometimes it is discarding toxic connections, and sometimes it’s grindcore that shatters your jaw.

Below, Notsch offers some insight into the tracks and the album as a whole:

The narrative speaks about living within the current state of the world as well as the idea of letting go of people and ideas that do not serve us, in hopes of living to the best of our abilities and appreciating our time on earth for what it is.

To Settle at the Bottom of Your Own Ocean is a personal fuck-you to anyone and anything trying to stop you from being the best version of yourself and living within the best of your abilities.

1. Death Machine:
Vocals on this and a few other songs on the album were recorded while driving through the desolation of the Pocono mountains. Death Machine was literally my first time attempting harsh vocals and speaks to the repetition of day to day life and finding catharsis through art and output.

2. Sink Through the Dark:
Honestly, I think I just wanted an excuse for a Weekend Nachos part.

3. Skeleton Dance:
Would this really be a grind album without at least one 10 second song?

4. Naked and Open:
One of the best parts of working on a solo album is being in control of every aspect, being able to match music with art and visual direction was really important for me. Conversely though, this song speaks to relinquishing control when necessary.

5. Peacock Feathers:
Keep reaching, keep practicing, keep pushing. Stagnancy is death.

6. Kannon:
Sometimes you just gotta get gross and gnarly.

7. They Command:
Jealousy is a funny thing. People tell you a lot about themselves by how they view your successes and it's your goal to trim the fat of bullshit people and ideas in your life.

8. Spiralling Accelerant:
This song as well as the next were both a bit of a dissonance-homage to my time in Sunless who I still contribute lyrics and artwork for.

9. We Could All be Dead Instead:
This song is about putting the effort into the people and things that are worth it and how sometimes stepping back from a situation and giving yourself a break are incredibly important for healing physically and emotionally.

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To Settle at the Bottom of Your Own Ocean releases August 6th and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.