Artist: Bad Manor
Album: The Haunting
Release Date: 31/10/2022
Location: United States
Concept Art: Landis Blair Illustration
Mysterious USBM entity Bad Manor present their debut album titled The Haunting, a fitting title for a concept album that focuses on that very subject matter.
I wish I could tell you more about the band behind the music but there is little to nothing to be found in that regard and all member’s identities have been kept a secret. All that I can say is that their music has been released through the equally mysterious label Ordo Vampyr Orientis and have physical copies coming through Avantgarde Music & Labyrinth Tower.
Before I dive headfirst into the album’s concept, I should explain the music a little. The band play what I would describe as avant-garde raw black metal. Their style involves a heavy use of atmospheric synth, paired with raw black metal instrumentals and DSBM style pained shrieked vocals. More on this later though, first you need to understand the album’s concept.
The album documents the late Professor Rada S. Lazarescu’s experiences in the story’s haunted mansion recounted by professional spirit medium Stephen R.C Sicreeve. The story unfolds via seance through the vessel of Monseur Malediction. The result is a twisted, dark and mind-altering tale of madness and evil. I can only do it so much justice with a summary though, its best that you read it in the band’s own words and presented in the way that they intended:
THE HOUSE, THE SUBJECT OF MY STUDIES, WENT OUT IN A BLAZE TODAY. I THINK I COULD HEAR IT SCREAMING. AFTER DISCOVERING THE GUESTBOOK AND ITS RECORDED APPENDICES IN A HIDDEN CHAMBER, I VOWED TO MAKE THE STORY PUBLIC, BUT THIS PLACE, THIS HAVEN OF EVIL AND SADNESS, COULD NO LONGER STAND. THE MANOR MOCKED ME, WALLS BREATHING AS IF THIS PLACE OF WOOD AND BRICK WERE LAUGHING, AS I ENTERED WITH A JUG OF GASOLINE.
I RECALL THE MANY SEANCES I CONDUCTED HERE. MY ASSOCIATE, PROFESSOR RADA S. LAZARESCU, RECORDED MY SESSIONS AS A MEDIUM. WE RECALLED HAUNTINGS IN THE MANOR THROUGHOUT HISTORY, DATING BACK TO ITS INITIAL POSSESSION BY THE SPIRIT. IT WAS A VIOLENT PERIOD OF TIME. PROFESSOR LAZARESCU IS NO LONGER WITH US. I FOUND HIM IN THE STATUE GARDEN, SWAYING IN ITS MIDST. IT WAS THEN THAT I KNEW THE HOUSE MUST DIE.
FILLING EVERY ROOM, I HALLUCINATED PREVIOUS HAUNTINGS, OTHERS WHOSE SOULS WERE PERMANENTLY TRAPPED HERE. I DARED NOT ENTER ONE, FOR ITS MANY JUDGING GAZES WOULD DRAW ME MAD IF I EVEN ATTEMPTED EYE CONTACT WITH ONE OF ITS PAINTED RESIDENTS. I SET THE SPARK. I SET THE HOUSE ABLAZE. IT DID NOT EXPECT SUCH A WORTHY FOE, BUT I WAS PREPARED. MY YEARS OF RESEARCH LED ME TO THIS MOMENT, AND IT FELL UPON ME TO END THIS LIVING DAMNATION. I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF TO CAREFULLY RECREATE THE GUESTBOOK AND RECORDINGS I FOUND WITHIN THE HOUSE SO THAT ITS STORY MAY LIVE ON, AS THE SPIRIT WHICH INHABITED IT, THE ARCHITECT, IS HUNGRY.
MY STORY IS WOEFULLY SHORT. HE WILL FIND ME. LET THIS COLLECTION BE A WARNING.
-STEPHEN R.C. SICREEVE, 16 OCTOBER 2021
The story is stunningly illustrated by the incredibly talented Landis Blair Illustration who brings a whole new depth the tale. Physical copies of the album include a full graphic booklet that accompanies the music. You can view this artwork in the full album stream on YouTube emeded below the article.
Now onto the most important element, the music. Sonically this album is utterly deranged. It simulates the sense of madness and disconnect with reality that the protagonist in the story is experiencing. It makes you question what you’re really hearing and what you think you’re hearing. The drum work on the album is crazed, discordant and chaotic, adding to the maddening mix that is The Haunting. The guitar work is a swirling maelstrom of crazed riffage. At many points it blends together with the drum work to form a confronting wall of noise, but at other times there are haunting melodies aplenty. What really elevates the overall sound of the release though is the heavy use of spooky, atmospheric synth. This gives a real richness of sound to the whole mix and is just one more way that the release stands out from its contemporaries.
However, the main thing that makes this album as impactful as it is (and I think most would agree with me here) are the utterly deranged vocals. I’m reminded of Rainer Landfermann’s unhinged vocal style on the early Bethlehem albums or Marcos M. of Tod Huetet Uebel, or even at times V.I.T.R.I.O.L. of Anaal Nathrakh with how raw and crazed the delivery is. These are pained shrieks and wails and range from high pitched grating delivery to biting barked rabid outbursts. The delivery also varies constantly, there’s no set style or volume, which keeps the listener on their toes throughout.
While I love the entire album there are two definite standout tracks as far as I’m concerned. I would have to say that my overall favourite would have to be THE STUDY, FILLED WITH BOOKS. It just has such unusual rhythms and melodies and to it and probably the rawest, most unstable vocals of the album, those as well as my favourite riffs of the release. The segment starting around 2:15 is honestly crazy and I can’t get enough of it. Coming in after that is THE ROOM WITH SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY SIX EYES, this track opens the album perfectly and sets the tone for the rest of the release. It has some great synth-based elements throughout and some great atmospheric segments. Honorable mention also goes to HALLOWED GROUND, a solid closer to a great album.
Overall, this is a fantastic album from a project that I wish I knew more about. If you want some highly unusual, completely unstable black metal to listen to, then this is the album for you. My only hope is that this is just the start for the project because the world needs more of whatever this is.
Listen to and order the album: