BAD MANOR "The Haunting"
By Dr. Abner Mality
Angels and ministers of grace defend us, what manner of lunacy is this? A concept album that flies to us on bat wings courtesy of a conclave called Ordo Vampyr Orientis, this is one of the craziest albums to cross the Doctor's desk this year. Full of bargain basement Halloween vibes and unorthodox tunings, "The Haunting" doesn't seem to fit the typical "black metal" description. Although we need a new subgenre about as much as a MyPillow comeback, I christen BAD MANOR's whacky style to be "spook metal".
The album is immersed in creepy, ancient sounding organ out of a vampire circus. Not the rich Jon Lord style Hammond organ, but something more cobwebby and twisted. I expected Monty Python's Nude Organist to be the culprit behind the demented keyboard work here. Yet the organ sound is perfect for this project and integrates itself seamlessly with the creaky, organic guitar that often blasts at lightspeed. There's lots of weird, watery guitar tones here, something like what DEVIL MASTER does but even more "smeared" and archaic sounding. The bizarre key and guitar tones work black magic with the twisting riffs that seem ready to fly off the rails any second. But believe it or not, neither of these is the last word in the insanity of BAD MANOR.
For that, we need to invoke the vocals...the maniacal, over the top and silly wails that tell the story of this spectral invasion. Never have i heard the like! Yelping, laughing, gibbering...it's the final touch of madness here. First impression is that it was ridiculous or even silly, but then you realize that the narrator of the album really is a lunatic who has been driven mad by the horrors he has experienced. This unhinged craziness, which sometimes sounds like Gonzo the Muppet on a bad acid trip, is the final cherry on the top of BAD MANOR and pushes it over the brink.
The album will apparently be accompanied by a book of illustrations that adds depth to the story. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the artwork, but I'd sure be curious to check it out. As for BAD MANOR and "The Haunting", it's rather refreshing to hear something so completely off the wall and different than the usual overproduced and boilerplate death and black metal. It's not perfect...final track "Hallowed Ground" just drags on too long, for instance...but it's sure entertaining if you can take the screaming and strange production!