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Album Review: Ode to the Flame by Mantar

German doom two-piece Mantar have released their sophomore album, Ode to the Flame. The fact that Mantar are a duo is reason enough to give this a listen, consisting of just drums and guitar this is heavier and more powerful than many five piece bands. Blast beats, doom heavy riffs and melodies with a tinge of black metal is the order of the day here and it’s absolutely wonderful.

The power and impact of Mantar has to be admired. Every track on Ode to the Flame is an exhilarating listen, the riffs are blisteringly heavy without being excessive, the drumming pummels you and that vocal transcends its initial abrasiveness and engrains itself. Think a blend of early Melvins, Motorhead and Darkthrone. Beneath that blend of black metal and doom there’s a simmering punk energy that makes it gives Mantar an infectious and immediate edge to their sound.

From the frantic energy and simmering rage of ‘Carnal Rising’ you get the immediate impression that you’re listening to something special. It’s instantaneous while being uncompromisingly brutal. ‘Praise the Plague’ gives the vocals a visceral black metal edge over pummelling blast beats and thunderous riffs – it’s the first evidence that Mantar aren’t going to hold anything back. Just wait for the guitars to explode at the three minute mark and you’ll realise that Ode to the Flame is going to be addictive. The churning riffs of ‘Era Borealis’ get the blood racing, they may be crushingly heavy but there’s a punk infectiousness in their structure; add that to the chant along chorus and you’ve got a track that could transform Mantar into major players.

Visceral aggression and pounding beats form the basis of ‘The Hint’, acting as a rousing call to arms before ‘Born Reversed’ sets you on a frantic doom punk journey of aggression. It’s the most challenging and abrasive track on Ode to the Flame but also close to most exhilarating. Two of the best tracks come in the form of the double whammy of ‘Oz’ and ‘I, Omen’. The former is a stunning fast paced attack, before the latter revels in black metal grandeur. Its heaviness lends the track a sinister evil edge, while the primal aggression and brutality make it utterly captivating. ‘Cross The Cross’ has an almost mainstream progressive metal feel to the riffs; you could be forgiven for thinking of a beefed up Baroness. Naturally the vocal easily casts aspersions on a complete comparison. ‘Schwanenstien’ throbs and explodes in swathes of brilliant doom before ‘Sundowning’ rounds Ode to the Flame is exemplary fashion. It does everything an album closer should do, whilst also being the most commanding track on the album. Brutal, devastating, compelling and uncompromising; what more could you want.

If you’re familiar with Mantar’s debut Death by Burning (2014) then you won’t be surprised by how good Ode to the Flame is, otherwise it’s a real eye opener and new and old listeners alike will find it an enthralling and exhilarating listen. The heaviness has to be heard to be believed. Blackness has never been so bright.

AD Rating 8/10

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