If you think about a general metal band, chances are you’re thinking of its most classic and traditional formation with two guitars, one bass, one drummer and a singer. Sometimes there’s a member more, sometimes there’s a member less, duos in metal are perhaps not so frequent, but they sure make a hell of a lot of noise. On 18 October two of these duos were booked at On The Rocks, Helsinki, the Finnish act GOATBURNER and the German sludge act MANTAR.
Featuring members of ROTTEN SOUND and RATFACE, GOATBURNER is a Finnish death metal power-duo, with also some sludge influences. In other words, you won’t be able to find a more appropriate opening act for the sludge act like MANTAR. The band started the setlist by introducing themselves to the crowd. Even though at the beginning of the show, there were not that many people yet, the audience grew throughout the set, eventually filling up the floor quite neatly. GOATBURNER has a heavy sound, with energetic songs and even though the singer is quite reserved, it’s fascinating to watch their performance, with very little speeches in between the band, went from song to song, and played through a generous amount of their repertoire.
The stage was being prepped for MANTAR, and the unusual set up caught my attention. Facing each other, standing sideways to the audience, allows you to – especially when it comes to drums – see things from a different perspective. The duo landed on the stage a little bit later than planned on an eerie piano intro, that transformed into the first song of the evening “Pest Crusade”. What’s immediately clear is that the band has huge energy, they don’t take the audience much in account during their show, but it’s almost hypnotic to watch their performance. Their groove, anger, power, introspection everything is part of their act when they get in the zone. The band continued with “Age Of The Absurd” making it clear to me that the higher frequencies of the guitar didn’t come through the mix as well as they should have, but this problem seemed to get fixed later on.
A couple of songs later the band continues with “Cross The Cross” and “Seek + Forget”, which forms a personal highlight for me. It’s a mystery how MANTAR manages to sound so heavy with only one guitar and drums, and no bass anywhere near, even though it’s audible. No gimmicks, no backing tracks, the band offers their energy. With their heavy, extreme music, that has a punk attitude and sometimes even black metal influences, the band manages to convince the audience along with me. Towards the end of the show, I see a small moshpit, taking place in the middle of the floor.
All-in-all MANTAR offers a damp and dark musical mayhem. The Germans gave us a high-energy performance and showed no mercy to the audience. In the end, it was an entrancing performance with beast-like movements, to dark and grim music, definitely worth it! I hope to catch these guys at another time.