There was certainly something weird happening in Norway at the beginning of the millennium, since a couple of important – firstly – black metal bands and musicians turned to more avant-garde, experimental music - Ulver, Solefald, Ihsahn... But today, I’d like to say a few words about the most breakthrough Manes album – Vilosophe.
It is only 47 minutes of music and 8 songs having almost nothing in common with black metal, since the band is brazenly flirting with electronica and jazz. Manes managed to build an awesome, intimate atmosphere, that makes you feel like if this album was written especially for you. The effect is strengthened by the multiplied (and sometimes distorted) vocals. The guitars are rather in the back, slightly overshadowed by synthesizers and spectacular drums. Yes, I must praise those drums, that build such a hypnotising, almost trance feeling.
We are introduced to this album hearing a telephone talk, but worried woman gets overcame by the music - Nodamnbrakes is a pretty devilish song, with screams and voice in the back and very emotional vocals. Well, don’t be surprised if you suddenly realise your head is uncontrollably moving up&down...
But hey! The second song suddenly takes us into much calmer, dreamy place and we start to wonder if it’s still blackish Manes... Well it is, in a totally new clothes – 11minutes of a pressure growing up inside of you, which is best summarised by the title itself: Diving with Your Hands Bound [Nearly Flying]. Indeed, this piece may make you feel tied up and desperately trying to move, but who told you it’d be easy? The moment you realise now you’ll certainly fly... it breaks. Nope dear, you were just *nearly* flying. After all it is said that we miss most what is close to perfection, but perfect is not.
Number 3. White Devil Black Shroud. Quite honestly, one of the few songs that have a right to accompany me in bed. Beautiful, ascetic keys and that vocal... You know I can’t feel, you know I can’t love... – but I’m in heaven anyway!
After such a hypnotizing part it physically hurts to listen to next song - Terminus A Quo - Terminus Ad Quem. Don’t misunderstood me - it is excellent with its powerful drums and some more screams&distortions. Listening to it alone I love it, but after the more dreamy part of album, the guitars at the beginning are ear-rapists.
Death Of The Genuine [The Redemption Ritual] continues the more “metal” crusade with fast rhythms, aggressive singing and low-driven recitation. Ende makes a little step back to more atmospheric and building up construction, as well as The Hardest Of Comedowns – they are both kind of raw, more depressive songs. Especially the seventh, which makes me even think of gothic music.
The album ends with Confluence [The Vilosophe Crux] which is basically a poem in German slowly growing to croak and slur to be ended by a gun shot. I’d much rather this album had a more impressive finish, but it’s the band who decides, so after a paradise of sounds we get pessimistic “you’re in hell” stop. Nevertheless, "play again" seems obvious.
My opinion: Highly recommend (with little minus for the end and a bit harsh passages between the songs)