Prepare yourselves for a big departure from our normal fare as we present a full-album stream of Be All End All, the new release by Norway’s Manes.
You would be hard-pressed to find a band who have led as many diverse musical lives at Manes. At the time of the band’s genesis in about 1992, and through the release of their 1999 debut album Under Ein Blodraud Maane, they were a black metal band. And then there was a hiatus — until the second album Vilosophe was released in 2003. It sounded nothing like what the band had been creating prior to the break, and it defied categorization. More releases followed, including a third album (2007’s How the World Came To An End), and then another hiatus followed.
Now the band have, in effect, begun a third life with Be All End All, which will soon be released by Debemur Morti. This follows a two-song single named Vntrve released at the end of the summer (reviewed here), and it’s the first full-length from the band in seven years.
The music combines compelling melodic hooks, an array of strong vocal performances (no growls or shrieks), reverberating guitars and trippy keyboards, a smattering of electronica and skittering noise, and plenty of compulsive beats. The songs range from gliding drift to driving pneumatics, from passages of hypnotic beauty to collages of clattering cacophony.
Unless you pay attention to the song titles and lyrics, you can’t say the songs have much in common with metal. They would be more at home in the company of bands like Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Gene Loves Jezebel, and The Cure — at least as I hear the music, there’s a strong goth rock and post-punk vibe that pulses through the songs time and again, and a darkness in the melodies that creeps in like lengthening shadows at dusk.
The more hard-edged songs tend to come in the album’s second half — with “Name the Serpent” and “Turn the Streams” being personal favorites — but even the lighter, more dreamlike tracks are so deftly composed and arranged and the vocals so beautifully performed that I found myself thoroughly seduced, despite how far away they are from the vicious racket that takes up most of my listening time.
The artwork for the physical releases is just as unusual as the music. It was created by Iranian artist Ashkan Honarvar (who lives and works in Norway), and includes the cover that appears at the top of this post. Here’s part of what the band has written about the art:
“Conceptual beyond anything we’ve done before, and far left of the newschool designer norm or the oldschool copycat grandeur. We feel quite alone here at the deep end, and that’s ok.
“Ashkan Honarvar has created something truly meaningful and almost shocking in all its links and layers. And he has done it in such a way that we don’t have to fear blending in or flying below the radar. It’s nice to know we’re kinda like the girl with bubonic plague at the beauty pageant.“
I love that last line.
Here are photos of the physical releases for the album, including a CD in a pyramid-shaped box:
And now, immerse yourselves in our stream of Be All End All: