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With an expanding American scene, it's becoming harder and harder for the less well known acts to gain recognition and bridge the gap between themselves and the top class acts, as seen by the general public. I'm not entirely sure what to consider Manetheren to be in terms of where they stand in the general sense of things. Small time band? Somewhere in the middle? Perhaps they are a leading force and driving depressive black metal into a new era? I'm not entirely sure, as you can see. If I was forced into making some sort of assumption, I'd probably say they were in the middle. I don't see Manetheren as having a major impact upon the existing scene, but I can see this as something that might change in the future.
The band has already discussed it's opinions on what they consider to be a tedious black metal scene, filled with mediocre acts that simply don't cut it now and never will. A change in direction is the desire as they seemingly wish to avoid any affiliation with a decaying genre. Perhaps that's a little pretentious of them, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying what they did create which could fit nicely into the depressive scene with ease. 'The Seven Realms of Manetheren' is not only the debut full-length, but it's the first time Manetheren spread their music globally. On my general rounds of searching for black metal bands to listen to, I came across this lowly American act and decided to follow up my initial interest.
What I found was something fairly stereotypical in sound. For a band who state they want to avoid any connection with such a scene, they sound remarkably like a depressive black metal band to me. Atmospheric tendencies carve through the listeners mind in an attempt to unload all of the emotion that went into creating 'The Seven Realms of Manetheren'. This full-length contains nothing particularly shocking or stupefying. It's a steady record that seeks to unleash raw emotion in a bleak form. This is amply achieved by Manetheren. The guitars are a major force to be reckoned with in this instance. They lay down some very bleak atmospheres with flowing riffs that merge nicely with the effects of the keyboards. At times, Manetheren's approach can seemingly lack direction. The guitars ebb away at a sound for long periods of time without ever really stirring any emotion.
The keyboards can create some very stereotypical soundscapes. The assortment of sounds is very well put together, but that isn't enough to satisfy the audience. What we need is driven dirges of pain and suffering to darken the mood. It's not until the fifth track comes along that we finally get this. Whether it is a case of coming too late is up to you to decide, but this fifth track is definitely the standout. It opens with a majestic sound depicting some sort of spiritual presence. The lyrical themes seem to suggest Manetheren enjoy writing about specters and apparitions. The soundscapes of the instruments, as well as the vocals, do create a paranormal feel. They're distant and cold. Atmospherically they have the ability to frighten with their mammoth melodic structures. The vocals aren't particularly special or anything out of the ordinary, but they do serve Manetheren well. Bleak screams as if they were taken straight from a torture room sound out over increasingly despairing riffs and programmed drums, which can often be quite poor. Obviously, with the use of programming, a sheer lack of variation can set it. With fast paced blast beats taking a considerable amount of control over the music.
'The Seven Realms of Manetheren', although never officially released, is a decent attempt to steady the flow of a dying genre, in the bands eyes. It's pleasing to the senses with it's outrageously open despair, but can often lack in terms of variation and ferocity.