Genre - Black Metal
1. The Sun that Bled
2. And Then Came the Pestilence
3. The Ritual
4. When All is Still, There is Nothing
5. Darkness Enshrouds
6. The End
Hailing from the US, Manetheren come as a completely new discovery to me, even though they've actually been grinding away since 2004 now, and currently onto their fifth album. The name actually intrigued me a bit, with the 'Wheel of Time' reference but rather than being based around sci-fi fantasy it appears the aptly titled 'The End' is a concept album based around the end of the world.
The style of black metal on show here is a sprawling, hypnotic and dissonant dirge of atmospheric black somewhat comparable to the sound and structure of that by Winterfylleth or Wodensthrone but with the nihilistic attitude of Blut Aus Nord, which I guess isn't surprising when you discover drummer Thorns is currently drumming with BaN.
'The End' took a good few listens for me to actually get my claws dug into it, the first few attempts it basically passed me by without making much of an impression at all, but the longer I spent with it the more that began to emerge. As far as this style of black metal goes it doesn't particularly push the boat out at all, but it is decent enough for what it is. The guitar work on show here is pretty solid, drawn out tremolo riffing which remains diverse without ever becoming obnoxious. I particularly like the way in which the guitar contributes to the bleak and despondent atmosphere with the subtle off key lead work scattered here and there, especially on “When all is Still, There is Nothing” and “Darkness Enshrouds”, the stand out track on 'The End'. The vocals are powerful and delivered with menace and intent even if suffering a bit from lack of range and variety.
The biggest roadblock with 'The End' though is it's length, it's just so long it's absolutely exhausting to get through, over an hour in total, and with that a lot of the tracks just tend to overstay their welcome and spiral into a meandering monotony that has you reaching for the skip button. Which is unfortunate as there are a lot of great passages buried within this release, it's just you have to sift through all the dreariness to find them.
Certainly recommended if foreboding atmospheric black metal with a desolate and dystopian edge is your thing, there's a lot out there worse than this. Still though, as good as it is though at times there is a large room for improvement, especially on the quality control side of things. Too much filler in-between.
If you like - Mid Blut Aus Nord era, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone
Originally written for Metalireland.com