The world of heavy metal has been awash in concept albums over its existence, and while it’s not unique to the genre, it seems to be where it has found its righteous home. Almost all of these records tell a story over the life of a series of songs, but very few seem to inhabit your mind and live within your bones as the music and adventure unfurl. Today, we have that very thing.
The mysterious Bad Manor is comprised of players from the Ordo Vampyr Orientis circle (it also includes Bat Magic and Beastial Majesty), and their mesmerizing debut “The Haunting” is a tale of disturbing spirits and curses that inhabit the band’s mansion. The album actually came out last year digitally and on cassette, but the mighty Labyrinth Tower rightfully is giving this spellbinding black metal tale vinyl treatment complete with an illustrated book with the album’s story inside. The words to that story also double as the lyrics, and the book itself looks majestic and fun. I won’t sample from the book’s words because the whole thing should be consumed with full album treatment: reading along with the book as the music unfurls like a phantom. The album truly feels lived in, and the weirdness that washes over you on these five songs can make your nerves tingle and tendency toward anxiety pushed harder than you might expect. We don’t have names you’ll necessarily recognize as the primary players—The Impaler, The Ghastly Vrykolak, The Haunted Strigoi, and Phallus A. Blaze as The Skinner of Cats are listed as creators—with seances conducted by Stephen R.C. Sicreeve (professional spirit medium) and Monsieur Malediction (vessel phantasmique); the tale documented by the late Professor Rada S. Lazarescu; and final dactylomantic rites performed by Lord Elzevir. How much is fiction and how much is reality remains unknown, but that adds to the chilling procession to which you’re treated.
“The Room With Six Hundred and Sixty Six Eyes” starts darkly and fairly unassumingly, organs welling up, and the drums pattering echoes behind before a yelp and a sharp turn into madness. Wild shrieks and a manic pace team up and deliver ferocity, the melodies hiding beneath the chaos, harsh howls clobbering. The playing drills and enraptures, the heavy haze crushes, and the wrenching feel dips into the unconscious with chilling chimes. “The Study, Filled With Books” jolts with a panicked pace and crazed wails, the playing smoking you and twisting into endless nightmares. Strange narration eats into your mind, the keys encircle, and the strings haunt as guitars race into the unknown.
“Through the Garden to the Graves” unleashes hypnotic organs and unmitigated chaos, shrill shrieks working their way down your spine. Tornadic wildness disorients you from reality as a crushing force emerges and chews at nerves, guitars blister and bubble, and a weird dialog ends the cycle. “An Incident in the Nursery at the Witching Hour” lands with psyche-rich leads, barked howls, and hypnotic terror, organs making the haunted rooms spin out of control. The playing ices over your veins, a maniacal dialog recounting the disturbing visions presses your sanity, and final beastly howls ricochet off the inside of your skull. Closer “Hallowed Ground” drubs and spindles, sharp growls making inroads, the whole thing freezing your mind. Guitars well as the strange disorientation of the haunted estate sinks in its hooks, keeping you here forever. Organs steam as the faces in the portraits fixate on you, delivering a ghastly dialog, locking you in a relentless pace, and burying you in a noise implosion.
The tales locked into “The Haunting,” the first record from Bad Manor, are chilling just on the pages of the book accompanying the music, but hearing the artistic manifestation of this adventure absolutely melts your nerves. This is black metal that is beyond strange and might not be the best remedy in your more anxious hours, as it can disturb your mind and paint you into the tapestries. This is a record that needs physical form to truly be appreciated, and once you have that in hand, you might find yourself the next name etched into the manor’s damned guestbook.
For more on the band, go here: https://ordovampyrorientis.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://www.labyrinthtower.com/product/bad-manor-the-haunting
For more on the label, go here: https://www.labyrinthtower.com/