by Mark Hensch
Want to transcend petty existence and
float free into nirvana, unfettered of all constraints and limitations?
Such unhindered bliss has appealed to many over time, and music has often
served as a medium to achieve the freeing of the mind. In my opinion, the
fairly youthful genre known as "drone" or "drone metal" is one of the best
sonic gateways for letting one's mind wander aimlessly. Drone is a ritual
of painful mind-bending; genre legends like Khanate or Sunn-O))) destroy
the listener with repetitive, ambient, and above all else, insanely low-tuned
instruments that drone endlessly and without noticeable variations. Being
a drone inductee myself, I often look for new bands and one evening stumbled
upon the band Manhir, created by Nick Johnson from the United Kingdom.
This one man crafted a sprawling and almost abnormally entertaining drone
album in Feelings from the Stone.
Described as "heavy music spawned from
heavy emotions," the drone on hand here is some of the most emotional drone
I've ever heard, a welcome change as some drone seems so detached and free-form
to the point of inspiring indifference.
The first track, "Illuminised Death Piece,"
has a harsh and discordant wall of sound intro that sounds like the soft
murmurs of a slumbering giant. Still and utterly void, choking silence
follow, broken only by textured, clean notes that are birthed only to quickly
fade into oblivion. A rumbling subvoice of glacial drone riffage slowly
infiltrates said notes, and eventual the heavy discordance overwhelms them
wholly, erasing them like the ebb and flow of species throughout the molasses
crawl of time. As entire breeds flicker into existence and then dissolve
into oblivion before one's eyes, the song ends in a wash of hammering drone.
"Trenches" is my favorite track on hand
here. After the prehistoric crawl of "Illuminised Death Piece," the sampling
of gunfire staccato and aerial dogfighting sounds oddly fitting and modernistic.
Ominous drone riffage is next twisted into the Sphagetti Western mythos
of atmosphere, setting a tone of confrontation and conflict. A punishing
down-tuned doozy is the outcome, and unlike most drone, the song manages
to keep a frightening buzz all while maintaining nightmarish clarity amidst
the gargantuan, plodding chaos. This horrifying seismic monster slowly
devours itself in prickly fuzz, wailing feedback, and an unnerving siren
cacophony of unearthly hum.
"Knowledge is Misery" sounds like an elephantine
distortion jamboree in the deepest quagmire. The rumbles have a death-rattle
quality, washing over the listener and soaking into their bones as they
trudge unflinchingly forward. A high pitched wail of random drone blasts
is so exquisite it's nearly painful to hear. Titanic tremors of sound gradually
decimate everything in sight, in the same brutal way (yet blatantly restrained,
slowed manner) as age or extreme erosion.
"Wandering" closes things with spacial
and epic drone that sounds like a lower slab of recent ISIS meandering.
This is some of the most organic and natural sounding drone I've ever heard.
It conjures images of long, nearly impossible tasks...try walking every
square inch of Earth on foot or weathering all of Mount Everest into a
fine layer of dust. By the song's last twitters of Leviathan rigor mortis,
one would have thought all tasks accomplished, each being as grandiose
and unrelentingly HUGE as the one's preceding. A simply fantastic drone
Whether or not one likes or even has heard
of drone, Manhir is as fine a place to start as any. Don't believe me?
Manhir offers free songs through various internet avenues, and anyone can
try a song or two for themselves. Large, glacial, immense, and freakishly
serene, Feelings from the Stone sounds like drone slowly coming to grips
with its own sense of trauma. Manhir makes things so great as the droning
riffage on hand here slowly pounds you into pulp all the while slowly mellowing
out at the same time. Patience is a virtue, and this solid drone offering
has it in spades...it should please anyone willing to invest actual energy
into the experience of listening to HEAVY music.
To find out more about Manhir, check www.soundclick.com
for a short bio and downloads. "Trenches" and "Illuminised Death Piece"
are on hand, as well as a freebie track "Freesound." Enjoy!
CD Info and Links
Manhir - Feelings from the Stone
casual observers or the morbidly curious
and Purchase This CD Online
the official homepage
articles for this artist
a friend about this review