Manes

How the World Came to an End

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Evolution and abrupt change are two very different things in the music world. A band that might have sounded a certain way in 1995 and sounded much different in 2005 didn't necessarily get there overnight; in many cases, change is a process of gradual evolution over time. But when bands quickly give themselves a radical makeover, it is much more jolting. That was the case with Manes, who started out as a black metal band but abruptly switched to a more electronica-oriented approach on their second full-length album, Vilosophe. Nothing on How the World Came to an End (the Norwegian outfit's third full-length album) has anything whatsoever to do with black metal; there are metal influences at times (namely, industrial metal), but not once does this 2007 release offer any acknowledgement of black metal. Instead, How the World Came to an End flaunts its electronica orientation with pride, drawing heavily on trip-hop and also showing an appreciation of everything from alternative rap (there is rapping in both English and French) to world music to industrial agitators like Nine Inch Nails. But even during its more metallic and industrialized moments, How the World Came to an End is never terribly brutal. Much of the album, in fact, falls outside of metal altogether. A variety of comparisons come to mind when this CD is playing -- sometimes Dead Can Dance, sometimes Depeche Mode, sometimes even Sting -- but not once is Dark Funeral or Marduk a valid comparison, and anyone hoping for a return to black metal certainly won't find it here. Some black metal enthusiasts have vehemently lambasted Manes for their change of direction, but the fact is that How the World Came to an End is a generally well-crafted and intriguing, if slightly uneven, disc that electronica fans should be aware of.

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