2. Diving With Your Hands Bound [Nearly Flying]
3. White Devil Black Shroud
4. Terminus A Quo / Terminus Ad Quem
5. Death of the Genuine
7. The Hardest of Comedowns
Originally Manes started out as a relatively standard, run of the mill black metal band from Norway. Obviously this was not a shocking development for any group of young Norwegian men in the 90s. Their debut, Under Ein Blodraud Maane, was a listenable album, though not one of those experiences where you immediately register your approval on the internet. However, when Manes reemerged in 2003 with Vilosophe, their musical leap was akin to a broad jumper managing to clear the Grand Canyon, except with less hyperbole. The band had utterly abandoned their black metal background to explore the brave new world of metal/electronic hybrid music. This drastic move was no doubt softened by Ulver's previous defection a few years previous and it's likely that many black metal purists were enraged that musicians would dare express their own vision rather than stick to what the purists demanded. At least, that's what I hope happened, because I'm highly amused by scene conformists who demand artists cede to the fans, not internal inspiration.
Vilosophe is considerably more thought out and executed than anyone might have expected from former black metal musicians. They not only embraced a new sound, but managed to knock one out of the park in the process. Incorporating a mixture of heavy guitars, electronics, fluid dynamics and song arrangements that create impressive ebbs and flows, Vilosophe is an all around well done album that begs the question how I missed it when it came out in 2003. Vocalist Asgeir Hatlen, who joined prior to Vilosophe but after the black metal era, is one of those singers who isn't necessarily the most technically perfect, but manages to sell each every song with passion and good delivery. His expressive voice makes a lengthy song such as "Diving With Your Hands Bound [Nearly Flying]" soar despite surpassing the ten minute mark.
Manes also shows aptitude for utilizing a variety of approaches to their songs, whether they're using heavier guitars or even creating a breakbeat rhythm (as they do in "Death of the Genuine"). Unlike Ulver, the general usage of live percussion and slightly more rock oriented tendencies keep them just this side of being mostly electronic. But as a genre straddling hybrid, they are entirely solid.
It's a mystery that I was utterly unaware of this release in 2003 as this is something I would have embraced early on. Better late than never, when it comes to discovering a really good album!
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 02/2012