Die Mannequin - Slaughter Daughter (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Die Mannequin

Slaughter Daughter (2007)

How to Kill Music

For those who frequent these pages, I can quickly sum up and rate Die Mannequin in a language we can all understand: Damone > Die Mannequin > Evanescence (assuming you're all lucky enough to know Damone). As far as female-fronted pop quasi-metal goes, Die Mannequin fits square in the middle, though obviously pretty damn high above Evanescence. Not as great of melodies as Damone but toting a lot of the same techniques -- drop D guitars playing thick riffs, dancey tempos, a focus on the vocals -- Die Mannequin is an enjoyable, if shallow, listen ready for consumption by young emos (yes, I call them that, like Mexican newscasters). Toronto songwriter/singer/guitarist Care Failure completed the band's first EP on her own with help of producer/drummer Jesse Keeler, ex-Death from Above 1979 bassist, so this appears to be the first release for the new lineup.

The new trio puts their best foot forward with "Do It or Die," which is like Ms. Andrew W.K. with its pounding four-on-the-floor drumbeat, heavy guitars and a catchy vocal by Failure. "Saved by Strangers" is a bit dancier with the hihat work carrying over from the Death from Above-assisted era. While the verse is weaker, there is another strong vocal hook in the chorus, though the open 5th harmony is an odd choice.

This EP doesn't allow enough time for the group to stray much from their strong points. "Upside Down Cross" is a ballad but dodges the cheese just barely. While it's definitely a weaker track with Failure getting a bit Underwood on us with little pitch bends and intentional vocal cracks, it's not totally worthless and its respectable that they try to get out of the dance groove for a second. However, they are right back into it full force with "Lonely of a Woman," complete with programmed handclaps. It's a decent song but already finds them falling into patterns. Closer "Open Season" comes with the disclaimer of ‘raw bootleg' but sounds suspiciously well-recorded for a live track with the exception of Failure's going-hoarse voice attempting to push through the song while leaving many flat notes along the way. In addition, the song runs a little long for the band's schtick.

The band has yet to prove they can pull off a proper full-length, with a new release out already (Unicorn Steak) that just packages this and the first EP with a few new songs. In the hard rock boys' club world, this equation seems destined for success with the young ladies looking for a badass chick to inspire them to rock. With future endeavors, the band needs to expand their sound while treading carefully to avoid the many pop-hard rock and emo clichés.