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Some albums take time to be fully appreciated, and for a critic, it is always risky to rely only on his first impressions and prejudices. So I greeted unenthusiastically Minnesota-based Manetheren’s fourth full-length, which unequivocally asserts its affiliation with black metal new wave developed in their country and leaded by bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Liturgy. Severely criticized by purists, this form of dark metal (called “Hipster” derisively) focuses on refined and sophisticated atmosphere deployment, interwoven with avant-garde lyrical themes. In short, it’s traditional European black metal exact opposite.
Time is a very long album, both for its total duration (more than an hour and a quarter) and each of its six parts (twelve minutes on average). Its development also requires some patience on listener’s part. Azlum, band’s architect, favors complex structures, alternating atmospheric passages and others more clearly black metal. However, all effects are still hushed, never flashy or ostentatious. It is rather a kind of epic music, like that proposed by 1970’s progressive or psychedelic bands. We quickly perceive the enormous amount of work piled up for each piece. Nothing is left to chance; everything is measured, weighed, and thoughtful. Maybe a little too much. This album lacks spontaneity, passion, despite good qualities and some novelties. However, it is over repetitive listenings (about a dozen in my case) that such an album proves itself. This form of Black Metal does not call for unwinding or anger, but rather reflection and contemplation, a calmer state of mind, rather than raw emotion and aggressiveness.
Skeptical at first listen, I let myself be seduced by this record, even if it does not belong to a register I usually enjoy. Song writing qualities, ethereal atmospheres and flawless play finally convinced me that Time was a perfectly recommendable album for anyone who appreciates a well done job. 7/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.