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Dissonance Causes Acute Animal Magnetism - 87%

bayern, March 25th, 2017

One only needs to see the alias Plenum (aka Petter Berntsen) in the band’s line-up to know what to expect. The man is the mastermind behind two of Norway’s most inventive left-hand-path acts, Ved Buens Ende and Virus. This is actually his first project started in the distant 1996 under the name Taarenes Vaar. Back then the style was black metal with less ordinary avantgarde flourishes the guys releasing two demos before splitting up.

The material presented here was written as an immediate follow-up to those demos, but one only needs a minute into “Demons in Tuxedos” to realize that this recording would be as far from black metal as Voivod or Fates Warning; yes, that far. So the fan’s ears will be reached by quasi-doomy dissonant rhythms which leisurely creep forward unerringly followed by insistent burpy bass and deep soulful clean vocals. Style-wise this can be classified as operatic progressive doom metal, a style which Arcturus started playing on “The Sham Mirrors”, and My Dying Bride nicely touched on their experimental masterpiece “34.788%... Complete”. That’s the reason why it breaks one’s heart that this grand effort wasn’t released at the time when it was conceived; when it was going to be a truly pioneering work…

We take a few minutes to overcome the grief and sorrow that rushed over due to this injustice, whatever the causes were for it, and carry on with “Carnal Catering Service”, a dark doomster with heavy jarring riffage also recalling the more experimental spirit of the Swedes Abstrakt Algebra; and with “The Gentleman Is in the Details” which is an atmospheric dissonant semi-ballad with abrupt jumpy strokes that will keep the listener constantly on his/her toes due to their unexpected application. “Romance” will bring a lot of “romance” in your house with a portion of elegiac progressive doomisms that don’t stray too far from the balladic parametres, and “The Dandified and the Devilish” is another nod to our holy dissonance also speeding up with sharp dramatic riff-patterns, but don’t expect those to develop towards any musical extremities. “The Crooner” is an unnerving doom metal hymn with some operatic singing also involved to heighten the pathos; more vivid riffs emerge in the second half to stir the thickening dissonant clouds only for the latter to gather again for the next in line “party” “The Cocktail Party to End Them All” that indeed “ends them all” being the closer, a dreamy spacey doomy ballad which strangely reminds of the soundtrack to Herk Harvey’s horror cult masterpiece “Carnival of Souls” (1961).

Listening to this, one wouldn’t be surprised at the weird eccentric nature of the Ved Buens Ende recordings; I personally find this album a more coherent and consequently a more alluring listen which again for the time of conception was pretty much one-of-a-kind. The earlier mentioned Canadian innovators Voivod would be quite happy to lend this saga an ear, too; this was arguably the first genuine take on their dissonant “lectures”, and quite well polished and appropriately extended at that. The Virus chronicles are a further elaboration on that approach, but that outfit’s music doesn’t have too many ties to metal, and branches too far into psychedelic, hallucinogenic territories. The other project with Manimalism band members worth mentioning is the black metal formation Delirium Bound where dissonance is also provided in large amounts, and that act’s only album so far, the very aptly-titled “Delirium, Dissonance, and Death” (2008), can be considered a partial return to the guys’ roots under the Taarenes Vaar moniker.

There’s definitely more ground to be explored, and hopefully the band will carry on from here to compensate for those lost tapes… sorry, times. Now that the scientists have discovered that dissonance used as a tool in music improves the animalistic segment of the magnetic aura around the human body, there will be hordes of fans who will be only too glad to use those sounds to enhance this aspect of their (non)human nature.

Norwegian Dissonance Extravagganza - 70%

LefterisK, January 30th, 2015

Manimalism is the bizarre entity that has risen from the ashes of Taarenes Vaar (formed in 1992) having only produced two demos, dating back in 1996 and 1997 before falling into obscurity. Kim Sølve’s (the band’s founder and head of Trine + Kim Design Studio, along with Trine of course) mind was too uneasy to follow the classic Norwegian black metal scene of the early nineties. Those familiar with his design studio already know that Solve always works in the vanguard, both for the minimal or maximal impact, and never with indifference. It stands to reason that we can expect the same from his debut album. After 22 years of hibernation, Manimalism rises again.

Bridging the 17-year gap since the last demo comes ‘Demons in Tuxedos’, our introduction to the quintet’s frenzy. The dissonance ringing forth from the first chords unveils a strange, eerie setting that comprises the perfect hideout for every devil in disguise lurking under his attractive and formal integument. It is an appropriate opener, concise but complete, and leads quickly to ‘Carnal Catering Service’ which presents some abrupt, pleasantly disconnected but effective rhythmic riffing. The Ved Buens Ende influences are evident, but it's its combination with the palm-muted syncopated riffs that grants a special character to the self-titled effort. The work with the bass and drums is exceptional as well; Plenum and Bjeima’s performances shine throughout the whole record, skillful and subtle. Indubitably, Manimalism seems like a distorted continuation of Yurei (Bjeima’s other project) had it not been written decades earlier. Kim Sølve on guitars, is responsiblefor the liquidity of the sound, hauling the intertwining, disharmonized chords into a labyrinthine delirium. The black metal element is quite apparent, arising not only through the dark, claustrophobic tones mentioned above but also through the suffocating, uneasy atmosphere the album creates. It's worth noting that all these songs were rerecorded with loyalty towards the original compositions, always alluding to the Old Norwegian mindset. Manimalism celebrates that blackened era but also dares to establish a new one.

Illustrating the point is the soothing presence of ‘The Crooner’ which is, to me, one of the highlights of the record. The bass leads the first half of the song; building up melodious lines over discordant passages, a nice counterpoint transitioning between the heavy, down-picked riffs and dark, stressful arpeggios as the song slowly unfolds. The vocals are also performed with such tension and theatricality, seemingly contradicting the song’s title. Given the album’s highly unorthodox nature, its lyrics could not be any different. They stress subconscious matters that flirt with irrationality, motivated by sensual, physical or carnal appetites rather than moral or spiritual ones. Indeed, the surrealistic song-titles and the overall lyrical content is filled with strange meaning: words hiding behind metaphors revealing messages definite and ever relevant.

The fact that most of this album was written between 1993 and 1999 but is only a month away from its official release is proof that these fine gentlemen have not lost an ounce of their vision or inspiration and that their experience helped them deliver the material exactly as they wanted. Every song is well-crafted, and despite being full of details, still manages to sound fairly simple, maintaining consistency throughout their length. Quoting the band’s words: ‘‘Manimalism is recorded like a black metal-inspired doom band performing twisted 60’s crooner ballads’’ although, I might add, it sounds as fresh as ever. To summarize, if this album was released during the period of its initial conception, we would now likely include it among classic avant-garde metal albums such as Written in Waters and Min tid skal komme.

Lefteris Kefalas