Manes - Under Ein Blodraud Maane -CD


Manes came in right at the beginning of the scene's end. Burzum wasn't black metal anymore, Immortal were going on a crash course and Ulver departed from black metal into the vast lands of post-hipster music (which the band itself would move to). Although they have released a few demos since their formation in 1991, their first release marks the final evolution of their black metal career.

What differed Manes from other black metal bands of the late second wave wasn't their music, or the vocals. Both are very common second wave-styled, with the tortured vocal screeching not being anything special, and the half-tremolo guitar riffs. It isn't the use of the clicky drum programming, or the melancholic and excessive Gehenna-like keyboards- it is the atmosphere that surrounds the album. I don't think any Norwegian album had an atmosphere like this since Hvis Lysett Tar Oss was released five years prior this album. It is very dark, brooding and overall depressing and mysterious- a thing many black metal bands have tried to achieve and rarely managed to do so.

Let's go back to the instrumentation itself. Imagine a crossbreed between Transilvanian Hunger, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and the Castlevania soundtrack. It does sound very amusing, but it is actually the opposite of it- the guitar riffs are typical BM half-tremolo riffs, but do feature a very melancholic vibe and nourish the dark atmosphere. The vocals, as also mentioned before, are a typical BM tortured screeching. The special thing about the album's music is that it lacks any bass guitar but replaces its parts with a very weird 64-bit organ that actually manages to be very chilling and creeping, with cheap programmed drums which rarely sound like real ones and sound like they came straight out of Sonic the Hedgehog 3's credit theme (listen to it yourself).

The most notable parts of the album are songs 2-4, which show exactly what atmospheric black metal should sound like: the second song has a very Dunkelheit structure and feeling to it, while songs 3 and 4 take a more straightforward Emperor approach, but slower and with an emphasis on the keyboards. The production is very underground-sounding and is very flat and icy (like any other BM band) which accentuates the drum machine clicking over the vocals and keyboards, with making the guitars sound very distant and fuzzy- and by this making one of the only flaws of this album. Recommended.