German doom duo Mantar are releasing their second album, the gruesome, gruelling Ode To The Flame, which delivers a sinister collection of twisted tracks in the form of delicious, malicious metal.
From the minute we hear the ominous intro of album opener ‘Carnal Rising’, we feel the intensity that throbs throughout this record. While many prominent metal bands march to the mantra of ‘look how fast we can play our instruments!’, Mantar have moved on from that, with the intricate guitar riffs of ‘Praise the Plague’ and the creeping tension of slow burner ‘Era Borealis’ creating an atmosphere, a feeling, a story, rather than just showing off how relentless they can be.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Mantar don’t pose the same threat as other bands within their circle. Don’t be fooled; just because this two-piece take a more considered approach to their music, the result is still a furious splattering of aggression and menace. Tracks such as ‘Oz’ actually appear quite theatrical, continually building layer upon layer of tension to form a production of sorts but, even then, it’s a bloodbath of a performance, using grim undertones and raw, harsh vocals to lead us there. While ‘I Omen’ shows a glimmer of respite with its gentler intro, it progresses into something sickeningly heavy and ‘Born Reversed’ is a forceful head-banger, driving power, aggression and determination through its veins.
Mantar are a smart band, taking their time and making something that grows on you rather than going from zero to one hundred in the opening seconds; slow and steady wins the race, after all.