Manes - How the World Came to an End Review
by Erika Szabo
Originally formed in 1991 as Perifa, the name was later changed to Manes after vocalist Sargatanas joined Cernunus. Together this duo released three demos and a full-length black metal album entitled Und ein Blodraud Maan. Ambitious and creative, their debut was highly acclaimed. After a lack of motivation and apathy towards the growing metal-scene (especially that of black metal), Cern decided to include a full line-up consequently resulting in Sargatanas's departure. In 2003 Vilosophe, an electronica inspired album, was released and lambasted by metal fans for its abrupt genre change. Evolution and sudden change are two very different things in the music world. Gone were the repetitive black metal structures, screaming vocals and rough production. The classification of metal admittedly remains somewhat dubious, electronica infused rock seems most appropriate in most cases, though industrial will generally come to mind. However, don't judge this album by it's use of industrial alone---Manes offers a healthy mixture of industrial, alternative rap (in English and in French), trip-hop and techno (more so of trip-hop and industrial than anything else, however). Now consisting of Cern (electronics and rhythm guitar), Elvind (lead guitar), Torstein (bass), Asgeir (vocals), Tor-Arne (percussion) and Rune (drums) Manes has earned some recognition among fans of electronica as well as avante-garde post-black metal groups.
After listening to the opener "Deeprooted" you realize straight away that this is going to be an extremely experimental album. "Come to Pass" will throw listeners off as it intones rap and depicts beats alien to the last. About three fourths of the way through, "Come to Pass" grows deeper and darker, a step up from the opener. While "I Watch You Fall" takes a small breather with its avant-garde sound and "A Cancer in Our Midst (Plague One) exposes its dark ambience, with a tight down tempo. The torpid "Last Lights," radiates its drum and bass, electronica blips and typewriter-esque rhythms. The abrasive "Nobody Wants the Truth" is heavy, and Manes experiments with the darkest of beats, automaton vocals and light, airy vocals alike. "My Journal of the Plague Years" is a little silly with its computer vocals and pure industrial beats. I'm not sure if listeners will really feel this song as much as Manes wants them to. But one can't forget that the album itself is a massive experiment. Anything will be examined at least once in this deeply layered album. "The Cure-All" is moody yet vibrant, lightly delving into jungle acid beats. "Transmigrant" is an orchestral trip-hop rhapsody. Moody, voice sampler "Son of Night Brother of Sleep" speaks of suicide, carrying on the album's dark aesthetic. On it's own How the World Came to an End is as intelligent and dark as ever, but like many experimental albums, lacks identity. It's as hard to describe this album as it is to accept it.
Anyone hoping for a return to black metal certainly won't find it here; How the World Came to an End contains only the slightest traces of it. Heavier songs stimulate the way deep techno will, not metal. This album will disappoint if approached the wrong way, if looked at with an experimental/electronica aesthetic it should be more respected. Yet even the electronica crowd may abandon this album for its dark industrial ambience. By exploring the deepest and darkest forms of electronica, Manes can make its home wherever it wants to, but is inevitably an enigma.
2. Come To Pass
3. I Watch You Fall
4. A Cancer In Our Midst (Plague One)
5. Last Lights
6. Nobody Wants the Truth
7. My Journal of the Plague Years (f***mensch Warmensch)
8. The Cure-All
10. Son of Night Brother of Sleep
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Manes - How the World Came to an End
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