Serena Maneesh
S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor


4.0
excellent

Review

by AggravatedYeti USER (46 Reviews)
March 16th, 2010 | 39 replies | 6,783 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Five years after their lauded but criminally overlooked debut, Norwegian epic auteur-shoegazers return with a follow-up to be contended with, in a year of follow-ups to be contended with.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

“A rock'n'roll chamber of magic.” A what? Seriously? Wait. Ok, now I see. Oh, well, maybe he is right. Maybe band leader/songwriter/workhorse Emil Nikolaisen is onto something here, maybe he’s been onto something for a while now. Maybe in cutting down everything from the meandering, repetitious song writing, to album length (nearly in half!) and band members (now just a 5-piece), he really did craft this so called “rock’n’roll magic.“ Or just could be that Norwegian dream-rock masters Serena-Maneesh have finally cut out all the fat, grown up just a little (most into their 30s at this point), and thrown together another shambled collection of masterful pop tunes drenched in reverb and wispy vocals -- oh yeah, and some seriously raucous guitars.

Five years ago when they came roaring out of Norway like a force to be reckoned with to major musical shores around the world (rest of Europe, US, Japan) they played alongside the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Oasis. Which really is fitting, because if anything Serena Maneesh is a band of extremely well balanced polar-opposites. In the every apparent vein of shoegaze, and please don’t mistake it, they are shoegazers, they balance serene beauty with intrepid chaos. Thing is, and what’s always given them a bit of an edge, is just how chaotic they are. Emil, an ex-metal band guitarist, always seemed to instill a certain Black Metal aesthetic to their music, preferring gut-wrenching reverb that was very bass and riff heavy. They consistently were much louder, a lot brasher, than many of their counter-parts, but also, still present distinctly gorgeous pieces of music. Even so A Place To Bury Strangers would get a run for their money in a contest for ‘most ear-bleeding.’ Emil always throwing down serious rippers of solos and guitar licks amongst his sister Hilma’s rumbling bass. She as well, was a bit of an ace in the hole for them, preferring a distinctly droney low end that seemingly few other bands have the balls to bother with, she always gave their lowest lows a serious earth shaking lull, or the greatest heights an invaluable pop bounce. Not to mention the prominent use of keys, and strings (in house organ and viola player), they were always able to hit absurd pop peaks along with their hell bent distorted rock outs.

S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor is the same Serena Maneesh as before, but, different. Much in the same way A Sunny Day In Glasgow did last year with their exceptional Ashes Grammar, they take the fractured, distant, almost cold aspect of their music and heat it the *** up. Abyss is in your face without question, and even though the riffs are razor sharp and the musical haze thick, it still aims for the heart. Caring less for the epic post-rockish buildups and more so going straight for the hooks, the length of S-M 2 is about twenty minutes shorter than their previous outing, and in sacrificing the repetitious build-up they employed frequently in their old material, it did change their music a lot; but all for the better. Now everything feels concise, complete, there’s no muck to mull through before you hit the good part -- it is all the good part. The album as well, works superbly as a whole, as compared to a collection of singles, which is very different from their other albums. Their debut seeming almost like a stand-up greatest hits comp from their early years, this on the other hand is an album. Opener “Ayisha Abyss” heard on it’s own may seem like a meandering ***-all to good pop songwriting and just a decent attempt at a droned atmosphere. Though when employed in the confines of Abyss In B Minor it reads more like a brilliant calm before the storm. All the influences you’ll find here, from the MBVs & Primal Screams to Swans and Moody Blues, all the metal, prog, punk, and pop, it’s all held carefully under one distinct motif -- be absolutely, ***ing loud. The pop upheavals that are “Reporbate!” and “I Just Want To See Your Face” are just as head-rattling as the epic-drone-slow burning middle section of “Melody For Jaama,” “Blow Yr Brains In The Morning Rain” and “Honey Jinx.” Which of course is followed by the just as boisterous proggy-pop mammoths, “D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D” and “Magdalena (Symphony #8),” both serious contenders for their best song yet. It is nice to see the five years, and apparent months hulled up in a literal cave outside Oslo, culminated into not only another impressive album, but one that delivers on everything this band had hinted it was capable of over their career.

In a year so far where many old stalwarts have returned with admirable or at times down right awe-inspiring releases, and with what looks to be an almost unfair amount of them on the horizon, its daunting. Not to mention all the young bands who’ve really just come into their own, dropping career worthy LPs like it wasn’t a question, Serena-Maneesh finds themselves at an interesting cross road. They’re not a trusted veteran, with a proven discography, but neither are they young. But really with Abyss In B Minor, you couldn’t tell, everything here is full of youthful exuberance, with an almost clinical bombast few are capable of without years of experience. But maybe that’s just it, maybe this is not the sound of a band trying to remind us why or prove to us how, but simply craft a collection of great tracks that flow together effortlessly as one interesting, beautiful albeit at times frightening, yet still completely enthralling; album.



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user ratings (8)
Chart.
3.7
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AggravatedYeti
March 16th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Release in US 3/23 but official album stream up at The Fader, and like 100 different other places.

http://www.thefader.com/2010/03/10/premiere-album-stream-serena-maneesh-abyss-in-b-minor/

and yes Rudy, this is, in fact, yetishoegaze.com

Kiran
Emeritus
March 16th 2010



6000 Comments


something about this band has always turned me off checking them out

maybe this time

AggravatedYeti
March 16th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

do it nerd face.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2010



10246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

what's up with the 4.5 lovefest this spring, i guess i'll have to get this hopefully it won't SUCK

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

AggravatedYeti
March 16th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dunno, you're right tho -- last year I think I had like six 4.5s & I thought that was a crazy year.

oh and don't worry it doesn't suck, you might tho.

porch
March 16th 2010



8441 Comments


I had their first album and it was nothing impressive. Derivative shoegaze

AggravatedYeti
March 16th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ I was a big fan tbh, won't lie about it for a second.

this is a lot different though, more structured and focused, you may like it more. even the heavier tracks just seem to have more time put into the pop song structure side of things. also the heavier songs are a LOT heavier here. But whatever.

vessels
March 17th 2010



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There's a couple of key influences (which I've always thought as the most important aspect that distinguished their music from being merely a "derivative shoegaze", as MrPorchular put it) that you failed to mentioned on the review : classical Norwegian composers (Grieg, Valen, etc.) and bossanova (Jobim, Bonfá, Gilberto, etc.)

Especially the latter one: much of their 'pop' songs actually sound pretty much like it, I feel; only sped up a bit, the guitar soli removed, etc.. It almost sounds like it is hard-wired on Emil's hands. And this got even more blatant if you look at the last two tracks of this album (and I don't quite get your prog-pop comparison, tbh).

just my 0.002 microcents yo

AggravatedYeti
March 17th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't quite get your prog-pop comparison

those woodwinds on Magdalena are prog as fuck.

and thank you.

I never thought of bossanova as an influence but honestly now that you mention it, yeah...wow.

and I'm a bit rusty on my classical Norwegian composers I apologize :D

Ponton
Emeritus
March 17th 2010



5784 Comments


I'll take a look that stream in a bit. Sounds good.

nice review

AggravatedYeti
March 17th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks man!

and I'm excited to hear your take on it, being a Besnard fan and all you may dig this -- tho Serena are a lot less refined than The Lakes.

I'm also really all about people getting this, honestly every time I listen I'm finding more and more to fall into here.

Ponton
Emeritus
March 17th 2010



5784 Comments


Their last album was recieved rather well, too. I'm looking forward to it. Probably later tonight

edit: oh... wow. this sounds awesome!

AggravatedYeti
March 17th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know right.

just hit Reprobate! and it takes off from there.

Fenty
March 18th 2010



6 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't been able to stop listening to this album this week. As far as I'm concerned it's bloody excellent, a perfect slice of proper noisy shoegaze stuff.

AggravatedYeti
March 18th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ srsly.

comes out next week -- yeesss. No more shitty MP3s.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2010



10246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yo what up bitch i just got this

AggravatedYeti
March 18th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

check it out!

maybe you'll like it? its loud, raucous, and shoegazey.

20 bucks says, 3/5

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2010



10246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

filthyyyyy

AggravatedYeti
March 20th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

!!! nice haha.

you've made my week(end)

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 20th 2010



10246 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i could listen to the first song all day



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