I love it when a band turns up out of nowhere to grab your interest without even playing a note. On a whim whilst trawling through Pitchfork on Spotify I was drawn to the cover you see above. I have no idea what the band sounds like at this point, I have no idea who they are, the image is slightly bizarre to say the least and like a medieval icon - but I wanted to find out what this record was about straight away. So now I am in the world of the German/Turkish metal duo of Mantar. Coming from Northern Germany, they have come to destroy and with a mission to make powerful metal that will have people in awe. They say there are no gimmicks, no image and just pure rage and like that they are going to tear a bloody path across the world with a playing stylish they akin to the bone crushing sound of a berserk's path. They might say they are in this with no image, but I'm getting some pretty specific images in my head at this point just from the description of the band. Just like Early Man and Darkthrone, this band is a power duo and has no bass player with all the noise coming from the guitar, amps and the drums. Well he we go, in for a penny as they say....
Starting with "Spit" you are given no time what so ever before the band launch into their pursuit of all things metal. They just let the music do the talking and with an opening track that would not sound out of place on later day Darkthrone or Motorhead, they bring more noise than I have heard from bands of great reputation and have an opening on their debut album which just grabs your attention from the first second. "Cult Witness" is the second track and does not let you ease into the album, it drags you along and sounds like a battle hymn that would have been used to bring terror their enemies and has all the classic sounds of metal but without any sense of it being regurgitated dribble that you have heard a thousand times before (although it does have a whiff of "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. It is refreshing to hear an album start off with so much promise; and it just keeps getting better with "Astral Kannibal" which doesn't take up the power, but slows things down a bit so you can catch your breath. But it is still taking no prisoners and still sound like the soundtrack to the end of the bloodiest battle that ever faced the man or the Gods.
Fourth track "Into The Golden Abyss” starts off with a slow building wall of feedback before the Arabic rhythm comes into play and then that classic metal riffage, which has those who are so inclined reaching for their swords and running towards the battle and in hunt of the glories death. It is full of horror, pain and torture which is truly towering. "Swinging The Eclipse" is the nearest this album comes to filler, but this track would still be a masterpiece on any other album. It has a great hook and showcases all of their strength. Next is an ode to the art of the berserker "The Berserker’s Path" which is mostly a spoken word piece that is draped over a slow and brooding riff war that suits the vocal delivery. A brief rest bite is given again by the band (in a given degree of rest as it is still as heavy as a really heavy thing). "The Huntsmen" is next and it comes off like a piece which Mastodon will be looking in their back catalogue to see if it was half-inched their discography. I feel like I might be repeating myself, but it is truly towering again, the band do not seem to have any other way of writing a song other than at full tilt and with an eye on stealing the heavens from the remains after Ragnarök.
After this we have "The Stoning" which is more traditional metal than a lot of the work on here, having that stomp towards the NWOBHM style which has became vogue again, but it brings in a flavour of the modern with hints towards Early Man, later day Darkthrone and even a slight bit of glam (which is strange but hypnotic in the same breath). After this the mood takes a turn for the worst in terms of style with "White Nights"; when I say a turn for the worst I mean that the mood darkens, the playing becomes more heavier somehow (if that was possible on this album) and the band truly deliver their best song of the album. In this song is conjures a lot of images of haunted forests, evil spirits and an amazing amount of powerful riffs that make you wonder what was next. What they do for the final track "March Of The Crows" is spectacular and up there with the best work of Liverpool doom merchant's Conan. The band themselves say they do not want to be called sludge, but this song does have some sludge elements to it (it is also the only song on the album which does this, so to Mantar - sorry, but for one moment you kinda do sound like the word you don't like). This might not be my most favourite song on the album due to "White Nights" but it is damm close and it ends the album on such a devastating moment that it takes your breath away.
From beginning to end this album does not have a weak moment, there is not one thing on this album that is excessive, unnecessary or filler; the cover art is haunting, the delivery is brilliant and the drive behind the band is truly astonishing. Already 2014 is turning into a good year for the metal genre and already we might have a contender for album of the year. It is with true amazement that I give this the biggest praise from the blog and if they tour near you I would recommend going; breathtaking.
10 out of ten - This is proof there is a God (be it Nordic or other)
You can purchase the physical version of the album here on Amazon
Or you can get the MP3 version of it from Amazon here
Here is a link to the Mantar Bandcamp page
Here is also a link to their Facebook page
The usual link to the band's website
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
Alternatively, if Deezer is your deal-e-o - here is a link for you
Here is a video for "White Nights"