There were just a few, who knew about the existence of MANES before the release of their debut "Under Ein Blodraud Maane" on Hammerheart Records and far more limited was the number of those who heard them before the re-printing of their two first demos (1000 copies each on HHR’s Unveiling The Wicked series)… The band has always been in an atmosphere of seclusion and having some news was quite a hard task with MANES. That’s why I asked for an interview with Cernunus, the MANES founding member and was surprised getting my questions answered by Torstein who had joined the band after the release of the debut album and who seems to care about media for the "hydra-faced" combo… indeed… anyway Cernunus isn’t that far. Despite the fact that Torstein seems to go against words like "cult" or "notoriety" used regarding MANES, this band has (maybe against their will… who knows?) built up a strong reputation in the circle of initiated. Their demos being considered as highlights by many… so the word "notoriety" is quite to the point. As for the "cult"… MANES’ music that has already been released has a taste of a dead one, meaning that it seems to be fixed in eternity – slow, dark and heavy like a corpse decomposition buried by dust… a dead music for the fallen… Check out their forthcoming album "Vilosophe" on Code 666…
Hailz Cernunus… first of all, could you retrace the history of MANES, for this band stands for the most enigmatic formations in Norge
Torstein: "Ave. I am not Cern, nor shall I speak on his behalf. After MANES configurated into a group of individuals, MANES have no singular concept, but rather many heads like that of the Hydra in classical mythologie. Each head his own voice, thus mine speak to you."
Cernunus: "And I prefer to keep quiet…"
Torstein: "To retrace, as you say, ones own history for the purpose of exposing this, again by your own phrase; enigmatic formation should bring no good for you nor your readers. MANES will always keep a curtain of diffusion and obscurity closed to the ‘profanum vulgus’. We do not have anything we want to share with the world on any level apart from what you would find on a MANES release. This may not be the best piece of news for you, as an editor of a publication, but we are not here to please."
You released three demos; two of them became cult through Hammerheart Recsords division Unveilling The Wicked, who re-printed "Maanens Natt" (1st demo, 1992) and "Ned I Stillheten" (2nd demo, 1994)… How did you get in contact with them? In which way(s) have this re-releases contributed to the notoriety of MANES?
Torstein: "First of all I’d like to state that MANES is not a ‘cult’ band by our own standard. And another thing – this word has no meaning when it is used to refer to the actual band, but rather to a bands following. If MANES had sold a few hundred thousand albums, reached the US Top-40 and been invited to MTV to talk about, for example, our notoriety, we would not be regarded as a cult band in your eyes – would we? Would we then be regarded as ‘commercial’? Pop maybe? Many of the underground record companies in the Metal – ‘community’ wanted to re-release the old MANES – tapes, and it happened to be Hammerheart who did so. Nothing special about this. Then to this: How these re-releases contributed to our notoriety?? I wasn’t sure if you had spelled this word; notoriety, right – so I looked it up in my english dictionary, and I quote: to achieve NOTORIETY means to become wellknown for something bad… How should I react to this? We do not seek such a status. Not any status, really… We wish to create music which then creates a reaction among the rather still cells in the average listeners head. And maybe these re-releases did so? I don’t know."
Right after HHR released the debut album "Under Ein Blodraud Maane"… Are you satisfied with HHR’s job?
Torstein: "As you might have figured out, I was not a part of MANES at the time of the "Blodraud Maane" – release, but I have for many years been a friend of the MANES core. I know someone did a shitty job with the reproduction of the coverpainting which was far more stunning when viewed on the actual canvas. Other than that, I guess Hammerheart did their job fairly well… Hammerheart is just another Metal – label. Code666 seem to be a bit over average…"
Cernunus: "HHR did an ok job. No expectations = no let-downs."
It seems that you’ve left HHR for Code666 now… Explain this sudden change and why HHR nevertheless has re-printed "Under…" as a digipak (+bonus) in 1000 copies?
Torstein: "Yes we have signed with Code666. This was no sudden change, but a devevolpment towards our next release "Vilosophe". I have not been in contact with Hammerheart, but my guess is that they saw some new movement in the MANES camp along with us signing to Code666 and figured out another way to earn a quick dollar… But fuck all, it’s just more MANES publicity and promotion, so I see no actual harm in this release."
Cernunus: "I think MANES and HHR had different views on certain subjects, and so the best thing was to part ways…"
MANES is a tormented journey through desolated wastelands of a lost yet forgotten way of playing a slow, raw and fucking misanthropic Black Metal… what are the streams which lead you to walk this way?
Torstein: "I can not answer this. I feel it is comletely wrong for you to say that MANES is this and that. What you (maybe) have in your CD-collection is MANES in audio form within a pretty little package for easy storage. What we are like as persons; you know little or nothing about. You can’t even know if I have anything to do with MANES at all. I could be a bitching little 15 year old girl with a shitty old SATYRICON T-shirt giving you a hard time. Do not take anything for granted. Open your mind. A person I know, who have grown a little smarter over time, said to me once that he only listened to Norwegian Black Metal exclusively. With one exception: ZYKLON-B, which was true Death Metal(?). This statement only made me laugh my guts out. I mean: get a fucking life! What is that? Then you do not listen to music for the sake of music but to belong to this herd of crippled dogs, wanting to be something which they are not. It’s like – oh yeah, they use corpsepaint. They’re good! I mean, get a fucking life! That’s what I call herd-mentality, or rather NERD-mentality."
By the way it grants a particular status to MANES as it is a band that always stood apart from the rest of the Norwegian scene; how do you feel about this on your own? Was it deliberately wanted or totally hasardous?
Torstein: "MANES have never belonged to any scene, nor felt the need to belong to any scene. It’s like this: why should we? We are from Norway, that’s basically it: we belong to this geographic scene along with many Pop, Rock, Punk and Metal bands… We don’t need to hold hands with any specific bands who happen to play somewhat the same kind of music as us…. We respect some of the Norwegian bands of course, but that’s something else."
Cernunus: "MANES does what it has always done – our own thing, exclusively…"
Is there an album to be released in the near future? What can you tell us about the new line up and material orientation?
Torstein: "We have finished a pre-production demo of our forthcoming album "Vilosophe", and we’ll enter a studio around August 2002 to record it. It’ll hold eight or nine songs I think… I’m not sure what to say… I won’t call it a new direction – more progression maybe. Give it a listen when it’s out for I feel it will be a dark album. But damn, we haven’t even bought new swords for our forthcoming photosession. Got to put that down on my list for tomorrow, along with the bread and the milk."
Your glance upon nowadays Black Metal scene, in Norway and the rest of Europe
Torstein: "Is there such a "scene"? I don’t really give any of the Darkthrone or Emperor clones a chance, I just go with the real thing. The last descent "new" release I bought of this genre was probably ULVER’s "Nattens Madrigal" album or "Under The Sign Of Hell" from Gorgoroth. I gave up on Darkthrone’s music after "Panzerfaust" and bands like Cradle of Filth, Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir are just banal. I listen to other kinds of music. I like my music dark and I can’t find that in many Metal bands of today… Immolation are good, though. Buy "Close To A World Below"! Or Thorns…"
Cernunus: "Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth were good. Thorns, Ulver, Darkthrone, DHG are good and more."
I let you the orgasmic pleasure of the last word… thanx for your cooperation ….. Maanens natt… Ihjelbrent skatt!
Torstein: "Yeah. Here’s a shot of cum for your ‘ihjelbrente skatt’, just to keep you quiet. Thanks for the interview."
Cernunus: "The End…"
MANES — Part II
This second part of the interview was done right after the release of MANES’ new album "Vilosophe" in order to keep you updated on this unique yet rather weird act from Norway…
Hellz again MANES, to begin this update I’d like to know the first feedbacks you had about the very particular "Vilosophe" album that has been released some weeks ago…
Torstein: "Hellz bellz back at ya Mr. Pestenberzerker. Well, we’ve received lots of great feedback from various places all around. We got an amazing 15 / 15 in Legacy Magazine (Ger) and the very first one we got was at a website: 9,5 / 10 at www.neovoid.org, so we were blown away by all that. What’s all the fuzz about, anyway… I know the Code666 crew post all the published reviews they can find at the Code666 forum located at www.ultimatemetal.com – or just go from the Code666 site, and find a link there or whatever… Yeah, the feedback has been great, basically…"
I think it has really been a great changing for everyone who has heard the previous MANES period releases and honestly nobody thought that such an album could come from you; could you explain us a bit more the context of this changing, its reasons?
Torstein: "There is no ta-ta-ta bling-bling: here’s the new MANES! The "…Blodraud Maane“ album contains nothing but songs from the three demos, so all the pre-"Vilosophe“ recorded material is about 8 to 10 years old, basically… The "change“ has been a slow and natural development – but it hasn’t been documented nor put down on tape. So it may seem drastic to everyone on the "outside“, but it’s no grand-plan behind it… MANES has become more of a collective of very different individuals now, people pulling things in different directions and giving things to the whole while taking away other things. We can call it omnidirectional deconstruction. We’re all open to all kinds of stuff, and feed off eachother, you know – not caring about what others might think… We do stuff we think is cool."
Well we were used to a duo for MANES in the past consisting of Sargatanas and Cernunus; could you introduce to us the new musicians who seem to come from different musical horizons and update us about Sargatanas’ departure ?
Torstein: "Sargatanas chose to leave MANES, so that’s that. No bad blood nor hard feelings there. Here’s a little something-something about each of us: Eivind (the red baron, member of PA (Poppers Anonymous) and player of organic guitar): also in the schizo progmetal-outfit ATROX. Rune (gets the fish, counts to 5 and delivers the goods): also in 3RD & THE MORTAL. Asgeir (exlusive Member of the Inner Circle of the True Norwegian Pop Mafia): also in the melodic poprock ensemble MASON (I think). Cern (musick, misantrophy and solitude) and me: Torstein (idea-monger and control-freak, I guess): also in the brutal fukkin’ deathmetal band CHTON. And on "Vilosophe“ Tommy Sebastian contributes also – he used to be in a band called GRIFFIN, so there you have us – namedropping and all."
You’ve now created a brand new way of conceiving the art for MANES, melting several and really different elements, from Jungle to Dub sonorities, drum & bass, and even rock gimmicks with a metallic basis; in which way do you think those elements fit the MANES feeling you have?
Torstein: "That’s what’s so great about it: when everything is allowed, anything can do the trick. We don’t feel the need to belong to any pre-defined genre or style. If we like it we can do it. Everybody should think that way, and not really bother about what anbody could / would think about it… We don’t try to be something or follow in the footsteps of bands like Iron Maiden or DarkThrone or whoever to be like them or achieve the same status or whatever. We try to make the path as we go…"
Personally the track ‘Death Of The Genuine / Redeemer’ appeals to me a lot, ‘cause I find it is the one that embodies perfectly the changing of MANES, but still keeping this high and darkest Intensity that you revealed since the "Maanens Natt" demo; I can find the pure traces of that through it; what do you think about that? Could you sum up the lyrics’ topic(s) ? I feel them a bit ironic sometimes as I heard "But you can crawl back down your hole / you don’t need to be a soul (?)"…
Torstein: "But you can crawl back down your hole / if you don’t yield to me your soul“ is what he sings there. I don’t want to sum up the lyrics. I guess I can say, though, that that song may be the one on the album with the most (anti) religious theme, maybe… Or anti-hope. And yeah, I can hear some of the "old MANES" in the riffing-style at least, on that song. It shines through, you know. It’s the same band, and it’s basically Cern who’s the nucleus of MANES. And has been all the way…"
Could you explain why you decided to use such a vocal tone on your compositions ?
Torstein: "We asked him if he was interested in doing some stuff with us and he said "yeah“, so that’s basically it. We looked at who we could ask when and then we asked him first, coz we think he sings great. That’s basically it. Nothing more to it. And he does, you know – sing great. Don’t you think?"
What do you think about the link we can make with some Pink Floyd material? Like for example the "Dark Side Of The Moon" album… not especially in the music itself, but rather more in the atmospheres given?
Torstein: "PINK FLOYD is cool, so that’s ok. I can’t really see any similarities beyond the will to explore and experiment. To break barriers, you know. The atmospheres, you say – well, I don’t know. Maybe you’re right… It’s dark and introspective, and that may be somewhat of a "link“ there. It’s really hard to be compared to masters-at-work such as FLOYD. I don’t know – if you think so – that’s all cool!"
Do you think you’ll start to do some gigs now?
Torstein: "We’ve done one gig in the history of MANES – with RED HARVEST – and we have a few more planned. We’ll do a show here in Trondheim (as some sort of "release-party“, although quite a few months after the actual release). We’ve also been thinking about doing some more here in Norway, but we’re not very keen on touring very much… We haven’t packed our bags yet, to tell you that. We’ll see what happens. We won’t be very active about organizing stuff like that, so I guess we’ll consider all offers that comes to us – not the other way around, you know. We really want any possible gigs to be something special. More of a "multimedia“ kinda deal. Not just focus on us as "entertainers“ – but more of an event… But, then again, I don’t know what we’ll be able to pull through…"
That’s all for this update, thanx again for collaboration – Ihjelbrente skatt! 😉
Torstein: "Yeah – giddy up – I can also mention that we’ve got some dude working on an official MANES website, but check out www.code666.net for updates on that etc. We’ve also started planning an EP that’ll include some really special stuff… I really think that’ll be great! Ok – cheerz out and thanx and what-not…"