Manes - Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets
Debemur Morti Productions
Experimental Rock, Electronica
11 songs (51:11)
Release year: 2014
Manes, Debemur Morti Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Norway's Manes have always been one of the more unusual black metal survivors, moving from purity in the nineties with Under ein Blodraud Maane towards more experimental pastures with the melancholic Vilosophe and culminating with the almost completely metal-less and completely controversial (even I think it's trying a bit too hard...) How the World Came to an End in 2007. With the band's re-emergence from slumber with new material imminent, they have gathered together various odds and ends from the recording sessions from the two previous albums as a stopgap for fans, and as they themselves say in the promotional notes, the results are surprisingly cohesive. You'll have to look elsewhere this week for Vilosophe, but alongside it Teeth, Toes and Other Trinkets is very interesting.

Opening with new track Blanket of Ashes, a trip-hoppy and intense invocation, and continuing with a live version of Vilosophe's Ende, this couldn't be mistaken for anything other than a compilation, particularly by the time you've reached Ease Yourself Back (Into Consciousness)'s minimalist yet deeply melancholic electronica. The sheer variety is exhausting, from a remix of How the World Came to an End's The Cure-All to the strummed melancholy of Nobody Wants the Truth. What unites the tracks is that same melancholic atmosphere as Vilosophe, the sense that the dark setting of black metal has survived even if the instrumental trappings of the genre haven't, and it makes for a surprisingly gripping listen accordingly. This emotional weight is what elevates the songs here, trimmings and experiments as they may be, above the soulless mainstream equivalent and makes it more comfortable sitting in underground metal's darkness.

This is also the answer to naysayers who claim that this sort of music is better suited to non-metalheads, and indeed there's nothing here that our friends and neighbours would find distasteful. But the sparse piano and bleeps of Tzolv is as moving as the quiet vocals of Transmigrant – sure, perhaps you need to be the sort of metalhead who likes Radiohead to really enjoy this, but the depth is undoubtedly there. My personal highlight is a stunning alternate version of Vilosophe's Diving With Your Hands Bound that ups the emotional vocal performance – the audio quality is clearly demo-level, but those who share my love of the original will be fascinated. It goes without saying that those who know Manes will get more from this than newcomers, but even they will find much to appreciate; you'll need a sense of humour to like the 8-bit version of Deeprooted, though, which continues the bleepy opening of the original throughout. Some experiments should stay unreleased...!

Killing Songs :
Blanket of Ashes, Ease Yourself Back (Into Consciousness), Tzolv, Transmigrant, Diving With Your Hands Bound
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Manes that we have reviewed:
Manes - Vilosophe reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Manes - Under Ein Blodraud Maane reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Manes - How The World Came To An End reviewed by Ross and quoted 10 / 100
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