The Manic Street Preachers’ third album, released in 1994 was the last to feature guitarist Richie Edwards. It’s an intense piece of work, many of the tracks emphasizing ugliness and pain. The band certainly has an axe to grind all over this album. Second track, Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart, is a very wordy track, singer James Dean Bradfield belting out the lyrics, reaching a climax on the chorus “there ain’t no black in the union jack, there ain’t enough white in the stars and stripes.”
Many of the tracks are very grim indeed, Of Walking Abortion features a murky riff, while Archives of Pain opens arrestingly with a snatch of dialogue of mother of one of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe’s victims from a TV report on his trial, and some fine lead guitar from Bradfield. 4st 7lb leaves little to the imagination with lyrics like “I wanna be so skinny that I rot from view”.
There are more accessible moments. She Is Suffering belies its title, delivering a descending riff which builds to an anthemic chorus, while Revol and Faster are catchy, call-to-arms style belters. The uncluttered, almost ballad-y This Is Yesterday stands out from the oppressive nature of many of the tracks, acting like a palate-cleanser ahead of the final tracks.
Singer James Dean Bradfield is in fine voice throughout, none more so than on Die In The Summertime. They would never release a darker album than this. Yet buried within are plenty of hooks and melodies for those prepared to look for them.