When I talked to the German extreme metal duo of Mantar during Tuska Festival, they talked a little bit about their general sound and of course about the new album. When artists call their newest materials the best ever, you always want to believe them, but of course, shouldn’t take it too literally. Let’s see how Mantar performed with their “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” released on 24 August 2018 through Nuclear Blast.
The guys mentioned how the newest release is primitive music for primitive people by primitive people. A bold statement. However, when I listened to “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” it definitely sounds more primitive, heavier, filthier, viler than “Ode to the Flame”. The almost beast-like vocals, in combination with dark riffs and heavy rhythms, create a raw, almost vicious sound.
You wouldn’t combine the genre blackened punk with the word “catchy”, but somewhere down the line Mantar really managed to create a lot of memorable riffs and melodies in their vicious music that combines beast-like vocals, dark riffs, heavy rhythms and a raw edge. The album starts off with an atmospheric intro “The Knowing”. The intro track starts off with an almost mellow guitar melody but soon is accompanied with subtle hints of what’s about to come. It smoothly continues in one of the singles “Age of the Absurd”. The riff that follows is not only catchy as fuck, it’s surprisingly melodic and again, smoothly transitions into the raw and aggressive sound we’re used of the duo. The bridge of the song has some awesome rhythms and then is followed by a bass line by Hanno. Following up this strong start is yet another single “Seek + Forget”. It’s a typical Mantar song that reminds of their previous material and will probably be seen as a classic later on in their career. Some punk-fueled chord progressions later, we stumble across “Midgard Serpent (Seasons of Failure)”. The song is drenched with melancholy, I’m not surprised why Hanno mentioned why their albums are so successful in Finland. It could have been a track by a Finnish doom band. A surprising twist in the album is the faster-paced song “Dynasty of Nails”. “Obey the Obscene”, next to “Age of the Absurd” is one of my personal highlights of the album. The whole build-up to the moment the vocals kick in is intriguing. The atmosphere that is being built up, is something unique on this album, this is proof of how great of songwriters these guys are. By far this is the most diverse track on the album and personally perhaps the most surprising. “The Formation of Night” starts off as a typical Mantar track, however, it definitely has one of the album’s climaxes, towards the end the band does something so surprising it really took me off guard. The track seemingly ends at 2:50 but soon follows a disjoint section that’s really mindblowing. The album ends with “The Funeral” where they created a melancholic and gloomy atmosphere. The track continues as a typical Mantar song and then develops further into a fading dark ambient song as the album slowly fades out. The ambient sound gave me shivers and immediately let me hit the play button again. The album is also great on a loop, as “The Funeral” transitions very beautifully in “The Knowing” again. I don’t know about you, but I love it when that happens.
So what’s so great about this album? It’s all about the riffs. It has shades of black metal, doom metal, raw punk and they sometimes even add hints of thrash. However, I was surprised by the different atmospheres and moods these guys managed to create. And even though when we solely talk about drums, this album has an amazing variety of rhythms and they drive the songs forward, it still all comes down to the riffs. Whether it’s aggressive riffs or melodic riffs, the end result is that these songs are able to give you shivers and are surprisingly catchy. Before you know it the album ends and you start all over again until your day flashed by before your eyes. It only makes me think that there really was a reason why the album art is gold because it truly is.
Hanno Klaenhardt – vocals, guitars
Erinc Skarya – drums, vocals
1. The Knowing
2. Age of the Absurd
3. Seek + Forgot
5. Midgard Serpent (Seasons of Failure)
6. Dynasty of Nails
7. Eternal Return
8. Obey the Obscene
9. Anti Eternia
10. The Formation of Night
11. Teeth of the Sea
12. The Funeral