Linkin Park, by and large, are looked upon as a joke. With few exceptions, they are loved solely by young fans who really don't know any better and are unable to find any other kind of "heavy" music at their local Wal-Mart in Smalltown, U.S.A.
What does Linkin Park have to do with Norway's Manes, you ask? Well, they kind of sound like 'em, which is truly, truly most unfortunate. As an impartial third party who paid nothing for this promo copy of their latest effort, How the World Came to an End, I find it extremely difficult to not hold it against them because to do so just wouldn't be fair. Because let's face it, who the hell in their right mind would intentionally try to sound like Linkin Park? After all, they have about as much credibility in the music business as The Monkees.* Besides, Manes are from Sweden - they may not have even heard of Linkin Park, or, in a non-ironic backwards-European way consider them, "hip" or "höft" in the parlance.
This is all due to the heavy use of electronics in the Manes sound. They use it to poor effect in the album's first couple of tracks, pseudo-metal-poppy-ish tunes that bring to mind the aforementioned band that hereto forward shall not appear in this review again.
Those who stick with it from track three onwards will be pleasantly surprised as an album of ambient depth is slowly revealed. How the World Came to an End has a few gems that will make you ashamed for the comparisons you made earlier and brings forth new comparisons that are sure to have you glad you made the purchase. Exhibit A being track three, "I Watch You Fall" - immediately reminding one of The Young Gods without sounding contrived and sets the tone for what almost feels like a concept album from then on, with fantastically smooth segues from song to song, reaching a crescendo in "Transmigrant" and following it up with "Son of Night, Brother of Sleep," a beautiful postscript to bring it all to a close. "Nobody Wants the Truth" - a flawlessly executed mini- epic (at less than five minutes) that bring to mind the best of Isis and "My Journal of the Plague Years (Fuckmensch Warmensch)" with guitar work almost reminiscent of early Mayhem - all with an non-intrusive ambient overlay that you can put on tomorrow night while you do that essay or read that book. Feel free to light a candle. Go on. It doesn't make you goth if you do.
So, despite all these singled-out tracks, How the World Came to an End is most assuredly something that needs to be listened to as a whole. Even with the first two throwaway numbers that'll make you dismiss the whole thing, Manes have given us an album that as a whole, makes it all very difficult to ignore.
*The Monkees were a prefabricated band brought together by outside parties to star and perform on their own TV show in the 60's. For a more contemporary reference, see: The Spice Girls or Backstreet Boys. No? Okay, for an even more contemporary reference, see The Pussycat Dolls or Cradle of Filth.