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Tristan Mulders
4 stars Manes - How the World came to an End

I was not aware that Manes released a follow-up to their 2003 album "Vilosophe" until earlier last week. It was sheer coincidence that I noticed the bandname on the cover of an album in one of the local HMV stores in Birmingham. Seeing that it was not too expensive (£10.-) and I had positive experiences with the band from their last album, I thought I'd give the album a go... but then I discovered that I couldn't preview the album, because it was that recently released that it was not yet in the shop's audio system... I took my chances, bought it.. and when I got home played the album for the very first time...

And I was blown away!

They managed to surpass themselves with this new effort. The three years of absence between "Vilosophe" and this new album "How the World came to and End" were definitely worthwhile! As a band these musicians seem to have progressed even further than their already interesting bland of metal and electronica, on this new effort the metal is less present (as in: less riffs), and there's more experimentation with sounds than on their previous album. Still, it all seems like a logical progression to these ears.

Deeprooted shows the band opening this album with a fast paced electronic rock song with great vocals. Yes, the label on the cover of the slipcase was indeed correct: 'A dark progressive mix of metal, triphop and electronica" or something along those lines.

And then something really unexpected happened, yes dear people, it is possible: hiphop in prog! Come to pass features a French hiphip artist and it works surprisingly well. As a matter of fact the guy seems to pop up on a few more tracks. That's one of the many experiments on this album, and they all seem to work for me and it's not just hiphop, there's loads of different electronica styles included on this album, from ambient to trip-/hiphop to hardcore and techno!! And yes, it's definitely progressive by nature!

Overall, the album is a bit less heavy than "Vilosophe" and the aspect seems to lie more upon building on soundscapes with lots of electronica elements, than to rock the listener out of his or her chair or whatever other type of furniture their sitting or lying upon...

That's maybe what makes this album so succesful: the many guest artists that feature on this album, especially on vocals. This makes the whole album one interesting trip to listen to. With a length of nearly 45 minutes, the album is easy to diggest, making it a comfortable experience to put the album on repeat. And you definitely want to put the album on repeat, I noticed that already. Because from the haunted electronic metal of opening track Deeprooted until the final tones of that very depressing closing track Son of Night, Brother of Sleep -which shares similarities with the closing track of the Vilosophe album in the fact that they both feature some sort of 'narration'- it feels like an eerie, yet exhilarating trip!

Report this review (#149439)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "How the World Came to an End" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Norwegian experimental rock/metal act Manes. The album was released through Candlelight Records in May 2007. Manes started their career as a fully fledged black metal act and recorded three demos ("Maanens Natt (1993)", "Ned I Stillheten (1994)" and "Til Kongens Grav De Døde Vandrer (1995)") and one full-length studio album called "Under ein Blodraud Maane (1999)" in that style. Manes second full-length studio album "Vilosophe (2003)" was an entirely different beast though. Gone was the black metal style and in came a dark electronic/progressive rock/ metal style that I´m personally very fond of. An extremely well-crafted and intriguing album that one.

The music style on "How the World Came to an End" takes Manes newfound electronic rock/metal music in an even more electronic/ambient direction and the metal elements are almost gone from the music now. The vocals are predominantly in ordinary clean singing style but as a new thing in Manes musical universe there´s rap style vocals on the album too. These are performed in both French and in English. The concept is still pretty dark which should be no surprise given the title of the album. The production is excellent. Layers upon layers of sounds, vocals and synths. The closest reference are bands like OSI (the most ambient and mellow tracks) and especially Chroma Key but a band like Ulver also comes to mind.

"How the World Came to an End" is not really what I expected from Manes after the excellent "Vilosophe (2003)" but it is an intriguing album in it´s own right. I´m just not as thrilled about this album as I was about "Vilosophe (2003)". First of all the metal elements which were the link to their past are almost completely gone and then there´s the rap vocals which I have a hard time appreciating. The rap vocals fortunately only appear on occasion though and don´t ruin my listening experience completely. So upon conclusion I find "How the World Came to an End" to be an interesting album, but there are elements I could have done without. If you can appreciate the occasional rap type vocals and the general lack of metal riffs, you might enjoy this more than I do. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved though. No matter what I think about it, "How the World Came to an End" is still a quality release.

Report this review (#224722)
Posted Monday, July 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Norwegian metal scene of the 90's is one of the most interesting in rock history because of the total transformation of many black metal bands into quality avant garde/prog artists. Manes in such a band that chose the lonely path of artistic expression, obviously not caring about what their fans might think. In return, fans completely hated this sudden change of style, unable to accept this ''betrayal'' of their underground black metal heroes. And what a beautiful betrayal this is! An extraordinary mix of metal/rock sounds with electronica, trip hop and ambient music which will blow away every open minded music lover!Beware: You don't have to like electronica or metal music to like this one! ''H.T.W.C.T.A.E'' is a completely unique hybrid that one should listen and evaluate for himself/herself. I don't like hip hop but I totally worship the -condemned by fans - ''Come to pass'' which is a .... hip hop song! If I should find some similarities with other bands, they would be the obvious, the mighty Ulver (closer to the Perdition City) and In the woods, especially in the more psychedelic tracks (I watch you fall, Last lights). Still Manes is different. Unfortunately, they never managed to gain recognition like Ulver or Arcturus and still remain relatively unknown. I suppose that this album is doomed to be disliked even by prog fans, though that this is hardcore modern prog! But It will definetely reward those few daring listeners who are willing to discover Manes' dark and powerful artistic vision.
Report this review (#283877)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Mmm?No, Thanks!

Thanks to a nice recommendation, I picked up the 2003 album by this Norwegian band, and "Vilosophe" easily became a favorite album of mine, one of my top 5 metal related albums ever, and despite I was skeptic with that recommendation I fortunately took it and nowadays I am really happy with it. The thing is that I said "oh what a great album, I should listen to another of theirs", and I did it, I searched for their latest record, released in 2007 and entitled "How the World came to an End", and my feelings were completely different from the ones I had with Vilosophe, now I can say I regret discovering this album.

The reasons will be stated later, but now I can tell you that the exquisite experimentation I found in Vilosophe, lacks in this record, here they wanted to produce different experiments, and in my opinion, they terribly failed. The album consists of ten tracks making a total time of 45 minutes. This time I will be brief with my descriptions, I thought about not reviewing track by track here, but that is not my style, so I'll give you only some thoughts. "Deprooted" opens with a funny electronic sound that reminds me of Nintendo, then it changes and adds female vocals, the music is heavy, could be described as electronic metal. "Come to Pass" has some storm sound and that electronic-metal combination prevails. But here we have a thing that ruins it all, the music becomes electronic-hip hop- metal, and believe me it is horrible, I assume the band wanted to cross boundaries, but this time they failed.

"I Watch You Fall" has a new vocal style, fortunately is not the hip hop one, this sounds better, with more passion. However, those horrible vocals return in the last part, and of course that does not help. "A Cancer in our Mist" returns to that heavy Manes sound, in moments it reminds me a bit of Vilosophe, so it is not bad at all.

"Last Lights" starts slow and gradually progresses, they keep experimenting in each of the songs, and the most evident example is in the vocals. "Nobody wants the Truth" is an addictive song that may attract the listener, it has some nice changes and good guitar work. Despite being a decent track, in moments I think this album lacks of direction, I don't really know what was the main idea and goal of the band when creating this album.

"My Journal of the Plague Years" has a darker sound, robotic vocals and dramatic music, the sound overall is strong, though there are some soft passages, this is a cool track, in spite of some voices. "The Cure-All" is a softer track, it eases you from the previous storm and it is good for a minute. But later, those hip hop vocals return, and again, destroys the music. Hope manes do not repeat this mistake in future releases.

"Transmigrant" starts with some people's noises which later disappear, then the structure begins to be build up. While the music could be calm, the vocals sound too loud, I know it was on purpose, one more of their experiments, but this time does not sound that bad, actually it gives more strength to the song. Finally "Son of Night Brother of Sleep" reminds me to the last song of Vilosophe, because there is a voice speaking as foreground, while the music as background.

Well, I was disappointed with this album, needless to say, while I highly recommend Vilosophe, I would not recommend How the World came to an End, at all. My final grade is two stars. However?

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#308936)
Posted Monday, November 8, 2010 | Review Permalink

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