Sunday, October 4, 2009

Manes - Ned I Stillheten

When I listen to stuff like this its hard to remember that it wasn't recorded in the year 1216 by a cave dwelling hermit. However archaic this actually isn't, its significance along the timeline of modern black metal is vast. In 1994 when this was released by the band on cassette it was so forward thinking and embellished in its character that it was probably really hard to nail this down. This band never really caught on but the ideas created here and at this time by a few others like Striid, and Ungod lived on and flourished recently through bands like Xasthur...and Xasthur. Definitely Xasthur. A lot of bands labeled "bedroom black metal" fall into this category. All these associations aside it truly stands on its own two feet being lent no credibility from the genre it created.

Its hard to say how intentional the lo-fi quality of this demo was and how much can be credited to a novice lack of skill by the band, but I often find that elementary decisions behind the 4-track are the meat and potatoes of the atmosphere on some of my favorite records. If you think about it, every record is a certain combination of thousands of decisions sometimes made by several people, sometimes by one. When one of those persons is Peter Tagtgren, and makes the same decisions incessantly, regardless of the artistic character of the band, it can sound like far less correct decisions were made about an album. A lot of people would tell you that the sound quality on this tape is perfect...and I would agree, though its almost hard to figure out how to listen to it. Everything is drenched in delay and sounds like its echoing throughout miles of pine needles in a dim forest. The vocals are varied, sometimes whispered, at other times a baneful wail. The guitars are distant and blurry but somehow it all gathers up nicely.

Musically, I look at this demo a lot differently now than I did when I first discovered this in 2001 or so. Sure, its a really necro sounding black metal demo but these songs have a much grander and vampyric nature to them. I could easily see these songs being played by an orchestra as the soundtrack to a movie like Bram Stoker's Dracula. They have a very theatrical presence to them. The wonderful arrangement and orchestration unfurls down the carpathian mountains and descends as a fog into your MP3 collection...hopefully. Unless you want to buy the shitty Unveiling the Wiched re-issue that Hammerheart put out. Kyrck put out a altered version of it last year as well, titled "Solve et Coagula" but I still feel this demo is perfect the way it was 1994, so just download it or pay $150 for it on eBay.