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Simple, raw, straight ahead, and loud. These are just some of the descriptors that come to mind when spinning debut album Death By Burning from Bremen, Germany's fledgling noise rockers Mantar.


Album Review: MANTAR Death By Burning

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Simple, raw, straight ahead, and loud. These are just some of the descriptors that come to mind when spinning debut album Death By Burning from Bremen, Germany's fledgling noise rockers Mantar. A two-piece that conducts their bludgeoning business sans the bass guitar, Hanno (vox, guitars) and Erinc (drums, vocals) manage to shatter ear drums all by themselves just fine, thank you very much. Anyone familiar with occult black metal phenoms Inquisition know that with enough innovation, it is possible to proceed with guitar and drums only, and Mantar have no problems making their steely compositions sound both heavy and complete. So once this structural anomaly is absorbed and out of the way, it remains to be seen whether or not the songs themselves are good enough to cleave Mantar from the endless assembly line of new bands coming out of the woodwork.

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Svart Records (Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures) thought well enough of Death By Burning to stamp their name upon it, and once delved into one can instantly pick up on what the label has seen in them. Take the questing, 90's style grunge meets garage in a dark alley punch of 'Astral Kannibal.' The blackened groove gives way to a rasping scream which makes up Mantar's vocal approach. Opener 'Spit' sounds like a particularly ornery Nirvana rounded a corner and ran straight into Kylesa, dropping the latter's textbooks all over the hallway and starting a big row. The upbeat 'Cult Witness' has that hard rock groove that has sustained so much of heavy music through the decades, showing Mantar has their finger on the right pulse. Blood in…blood out, as the chorus goes, this is death by burning. A mournful lead at 3:30 gives some traditional metal punch to a distortion soaked buzz of heaviness sure to please fans of doom, death, punk, and post-everything.

'Into The Golden Abyss' will have fists in the air with its more driving pace, but the ideas Mantar bring to the table are fluid, as evidenced in this mid-album rocker. A variety of tempos are employed to engaging effect, always returning to that driving punchy beat. If any Mantar song is going to start a circle pit it would most likely be 'Swinging the Eclipse,' a death-punk anthem with black around the edges. 'The Huntsman' comes off like a more doomy, sludgy Grand Magus had a baby with a Vreid album.

The latter half of the album culminates with the doom of 'March of the Crows,' a lengthy track set at a hypnotic pace, dialing down the speed and upping the monstrous heaviness. No vocals either, as Mantar lets thundering drums and heavy, yet atmospheric guitar do the talking. Preceding it is 'White Nights,' a stoner's dream of crawling sonic creepiness riddled with distortion and feedback. A melancholic riff emerges from the din, however, before Hanno comes in with catchy vocal lines, his liquor soaked larynx an instrument in its own right. Cerebral, yet still crushing.

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For a band that has only been in existence since 2012/13, Mantar have certainly proven quite capable with Death By Burning. The future looks very bright for these Germans, whose compelling take on heavy metal has resulted in an intense listen that gains traction with each immersion into their blackened auditory world. A set at the 2015 Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore, U.S.A. should gain the duo a horde of new fans.

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