Review: Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
How to drop straight fire.
In the Spring of 2015, my friend Steve had returned from SXSW with a list of up and coming bands to check out. Out of all the names on that list, Mantar stood out to me. After eagerly listening to their 2014 debut album, Death By Burning, I was instantly a fan of the gruesome twosome. Now three years later and the band is on their third album, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, which drops on August 24th through Nuclear Blast Records. Now I find myself asking, will Mantar continue to set me ablaze with their latest offering or will they douse the flames of my enthusiasm? Let’s find out.
Coming in as the album’s first track is “The Knowing”, a short, less than two minute long song that serves merely as an intro. While the subtle hints of darkness at the end of the song, do somewhat help set the underlying tone of the album, this intro track, like many intro tracks seems unnecessary. With the seemingly obligatory intro track out of the way, the album begins with “Age of the Absurd”. The opening guitar riff wails like an air raid siren before turning into an auditory onslaught that seems discordant. While the songs discordant section leaves me flat, its from 2:17 onward where the songs really starts to excite me with Erinc’s drum playing. Adding even more interest into this song is the inclusion of bass playing from Hanno. This is an unexpected addition, as the band’s has been adamant about being a two-piece based around guitar and drums.
Following on the heels of “Age of the Absurd” is “Seek + Forget”, my favorite track on this album. This song is quintessential Mantar and fans of the band’s previous releases will love this track. Hanno’s audible growl and fuzzy upbeat guitar playing will get you moshing instantly. Not so quitessential sounding is track four, “Taurus”. As the feedback drones on to start track, the band continues its brief flirtation with bass before forgoing it, with Erinc’s drums providing a brief galloping pace, before returning to their slower pace.
As track five, “Midgard Serpent (Season of Failure)” starts, the band’s resumes its trademark style of a slower, grinding pace which just churns away. As usual with Mantar, despite this slower pace, this song will still get you headbanging. Providing a break from the slower, sludgy pace is track six “Dynasty of Nails” which is another one of my favorite songs on the album. This song and other songs like it is why I love Mantar. The band really excels at writing faster paced song, as it really plays well off the band’s aggressive confrontational attitude.
As the album progresses into its seventh track we are given “Eternal Return”. While this song isn’t bad, it certainly doesn’t stand out among the other tracks on the album. However, “Obey the Obscene” which is the album’s eight track starts out with what sounds like some very haunted organ before going seguing into the usual aggressive, fuzzy Mantar sound. Overall, these two tracks are good but a bit unremarkable.
Track nine, “Anti Eternia” is a solid track with more of jam feel, where Erinc’s drum seem to have a bit more prominence then on some of the other tracks that proceeded this one. Track ten, which is “The Formation of the Night” is more of a straight forward doom metal track, which is perhaps its biggest problem. Instead of sounding like a distinct Mantar track, it sounds like a song that could have come from any number of doom metal bands.
Finally there are the last two tracks on the album which are “Teeth of the Sea” and “The Funeral”. The former is another one of Mantar’s faster, upbeat songs. This particular song is very infectious, and gets me pretty pumped up before the song descends into a slower, before descending into a grinding pace. With the ending of “Teeth of the Sea” we are given the fittingly slow jam of “The Funeral”. While I enjoyed this song musically, as its gives the album just the right slow and sludgy tone to end this album, I am not a fan of the songs lyrics. Bluntly speaking, you could cut yourself on the lyrics of this song, because of how edgy they are. For example The lyrics of “I don’t want you to wear black when I die because I’m better than you” and “I don’t you want to say my name ever again, unless its true” don’t so much convey a sense of disdain as they do pettiness.
Mantar’s “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” is a solid album despite its occasional missteps. While I wouldn’t recommend this album as someone’s introduction to the band, I still think that this album still underscores why fans of doom metal should be listening to Mantar if they haven’t already. Overall this album gets 4 out of 5 flaming Toilets ov Hell.