Manes – Be All End All (Debemur Morti Productions)Tuesday, 21st October 2014
“Enigmatic” and “experimental” can occasionally be red-flag terms. When a band is about to fall off the cliff, they’re usually applied in order to pad the gradual descent; “softening the blow,” even. Being that Norway’s Manes has long fallen off said cliff from their swirling, adventurous black metal days, such exercises like their new Be All End All are the expectation, and norm. As the band’s first proper full-length since 2007’s How the World Came to End, Be All End All is an umbrella release – it covers more styles and sounds than necessary.
The album is primarily blanketed by post rock/metal and trip-hop, the latter of which proves to be the main detriment. But, the aforementioned “post” elements are where Manes’ bread and butter lies, most notably on excellent album opener “A Deathpact Most Imminent,” a song that combines the atmospheric reservations of Isis with the vocal-driven approach of Antimatter, who at first blush, would be the band most ripe for comparison to Manes. On “Ars Moriendi (The Lower Crown),” the need to push forward with drum loops and industrial elements immediately stalls the album; the same applies for the clunky “A Safe Place in the Unsafe” (what’s up with the vocals) and “Free As In Free to Leave.”
A name that has probably never been mentioned on this site: David Bowie. That’s how some of this stuff sticks, probably in most regard to Bowie’s mid-90s work when he hooked up with Trent Reznor. Therefore, the workaround with Be All End All is on said trip-hop-happy or un-human generated cuts, making the dreary and reflective tone of cuts like “A Deathpact Most Imminent” or “The Nature and the Function of Sacrifice” become all the more valuable. Fact is, Manes is totally missing their audience here. Hopefully someone points it out.