I mean, the album opens with 'Endetidstegn' which begins with something Autechre could have written. Then the song drags in elements from trip-hop and progressive rock, quite often gracefully balancing on the thin edge between rock and metal. A little further on in the record, by the time 'Chemical Heritage' has kicked off, my mind is comparing this to a whole festival of bands, as if the aforementioned Autechre joins the line-up of Tricky, Queensryche, Massive Attack, Archive, Porcupine Tree, Black Sabbath and David Bowie.
That is indeed a whole lot of variation, perhaps risking to tumble into an overkill of different sounds. However, Manes seems to have everything under control. In fact, they managed so blend all these different influences into one unique sound. Besides, it's frightening how much the vocals sound like Ozzy in 'Therapism'. This is one of my favorite tracks on this album, not only because of those vocals but also because of the psytrance-sequence that supports the whole thing. Yes, that's possible and it's brilliant.
Perhaps the most "normal" song on this album is the rock ballad 'Last Resort' (not in any way related to the Papa Roach tune). This partially acoustic driven song reminds me of another unique band from back in the days, namely Thought Industry, or perhaps of a power ballad by Death Angel together with The Gathering. Fact remains, this isn't even my favorite track on the album but it still is a masterfully crafted musical epos. There is a stunning sense of grandeur and bombast present allover the album.
Another one of my favorites is 'Night Vision', mainly because of the weird and dark overtone. I mean, here some of the bands from my gothic-era come to mind, especially the guitars based ones. I can easily imagine my young self headbanging to this stuff, even if it is slow. And all of that with clean vocals, reminiscent mostly of indie rock bands. Varied you say? Actually, not really. Sure, there are a lot of different elements in this music (noise too? Yes, in 'Ater', where Archive meets Merzbow meets Author and Punisher) but the most surprising aspect of it all is how coherent it all sounds.
Right, that surely was a challenge. I had to dig deep into my own musical history to find references. Yet, somehow I don't think I needed to do that. The truth is that this album completely took me by surprise. I didn't know Manes before so for me this was a first listen. Many more will follow, undoubtedly as I love the hell out of this album. So I can only recommend it to all... well, to everybody who loves original and immersive music, be it rock or metal or trip hop or power pop. Stunning piece of work, that's for sure.