I didn’t have a very good first impression of MANES, as their last EP, “[View],” left me cold and a little confused. Well, they’re back with a full-length that doesn’t really depart from that sound, but succeeds in being more accessible.
MANES hasn’t returned to the classic Black Metal they exhibited in their debut album, “Under Ein Blodraud Maane,” but continue the ULVER-ization that began with 2003’s “Vilosophe.” It’s thoroughly modern, pulsing, would fit in a Tech-Punk movie’s soundtrack, and there’s very little present that can clearly be labelled Metal. The electronic elements are the dominant aspect of the sound, but the album is wrapped in such a dark, melancholic cloak of malaise that it should appeal to people that are into the sadness in Gothic and a lot of Alternative Metal.
In my review for “[View],” I rejected the comparison of MANES to KATATONIA, but with “How The World Came To An End” I have to reconsider. Sure, the two don’t actually sound alike (I don’t think we will ever hear Jonas Rynske rapping in French), but the atmosphere is much the same between both bands. There’s the same sort of depressing attitude that makes you think of decaying systems, horrific personal entropy, and sadness. There’s a lot of Avantgarde material on this album, but it’s hard to really think of it as Avantgarde when the attitude is this decidedly Alternative-morose.
The most effective track on the album is “Son Of Night, Brother Of Sleep,” which sounds little like the other songs. A suicidal narration reads over desperately unfeeling, clean picking. Vocalist Asgeir Hatlein croons plaintively in the background, always eluding any sort of closure. It’s powerful and affecting. The other tracks never reach the same sort of emotional resonance, though they all successfully communicate that same sort of hopeless atmosphere. Unless they have some gimmick, such as the aforementioned French rapping in “Come To Pass,” the tracks run together. They have similar tricks, but it often seems that the atmosphere (how often can I use that word in one review?) is more important than the individual tracks. It’s a forbidding, unsettling listen and I think that’s exactly what they were shooting for. If you’re looking for a slice of aural despondency, “How The World Came To An End” is an admirable starting place.
It seems this is one of a pair of albums that were recorded together. The other is titled “Be All/End All” and that’s as much as I’ve been able to dig up about it.
(Online June 10, 2007)