Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mantar - Death By Burning - Album Review

Year: 2014

Music according to me has to evolve. For a musician to get the best out of his talents, he/she should feel free to step out of their comfort zones once in a while. In all the years that metal has existed, repetition has become something very common and to be honest, it is quite annoying to see bands creating the same type of music over and over again. This brings me to the two man band from Hamburg, Germany, which goes by the name of Mantar. This is a band that manages to showcase their potential through their debut album. But there is something about this album, that doesn’t quite feel right.

Their debut, titled ‘Death by Burning’ was released on 7th February 2014, through Svart Records. The band’s music if primarily sludge metal, but like most other sludge bands, there is a copious amount of hardcore influence creeping into their music. The album opens with the track ‘Spit’, which is a song that carries a steady mid tempo groove and heavily distorted guitar work. This track sets the trend for the tracks that follow.

Though the band does not have a bass, the heavy guitar tone more than compensates for the lack of an axe at the lower end. The steady groove and the guitar riffs are quite catchy. Monotony is avoided by the constant variations that the band maintains within their songs. Ernic and Hanno’s vocal work have a blackened edge to them, as they employ snarls and shrieks to express themselves. Ernic's drumming packs a lot of punch and sound really powerful and heavy.

The sound of Mantar might be described as a darker and more serious version of (the) Melvins, with a good helping of Motorhead’s punk elements thrown in. The first half of the album has quite a lot of impressive tracks that are highly enjoyable and addictive like ‘Spit’, ‘Cult Witness’, ‘Astral Kannibal’ and ‘Swinging of the Eclipse’. The band’s problems though, start from the second half of this record.

In contrast to the first half, the last few songs take a slower approach with a sharp focus on the atmosphere, courtesy of the feedback from the guitars. Though this doesn’t necessarily sound bad, compared to the first half, it sounds a little pale. It feels like the momentum that the band built up from the beginning is suddenly dropped.

There are a lot of segments in the latter half of the album, where it feels like that the band could have done better, had they been willing to experiment a little. But then, the band opts to play it safe and the resulting materials are tracks with potential that are not utilized completely.

Production wise, this album is stellar. The lack of a bass does not affect the music in anyway. The mixing gives the guitar a very thick and sludgy tone and this coupled with the powerful sounding drums, sounds perfect for the type of music Mantar makes.

Had this been an EP with just the first five tracks, I definitely would have given it a much higher rating. Only time will tell, if Mantar can capitalize on their skills and put out more consistent albums henceforth.

Rating: 78%

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