Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Nuclear Blast)

Tuesday, 21st August 2018
Rating: 8/10

The two-piece act Mantar have been making some waves over the past two releases. Joining on with Nuclear Blast for their second release, Ode to the Flame, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze keeps with the ‘a record every other year’ build up, but it’s more than just a simple case of rinse and repeat for this act. This release sees Mantar finally striking complete gold with their attack.

A band that admittedly sticks to the basics with no unnecessary flashy or added elements put into the mix, Mantar stick to the raw and primal. It’s almost entirely made up of 3-4 minute cuts that sweep in, churn out some abrasive yet somehow memorable riffs, and get out while the getting is good. But that’s ultimately what gives their latest album its energy; there’s a dedication to metal in its purest form. Speaking of which, short of using a slew of subgenre references, it’s hard to really put what Mantar does into a neat little box. Caustic blackened shrieks mix with sludgy and thrashy riffs, with a side of punk edge and attitude, Mantar have a vibe that works for them. With this release, more than in the past, there’s also a melodic side to things that makes the songs standout over the long run. Whether it’s the rumbling bass of “Age of the Absurd” or the groovy, death ‘n’ roll-esque stomping of “Midgard Serpent,” there’s something to grab your attention within each track. There’s plenty of venom being spewed to satisfy the extreme metal thirst, the fist-pumping energy of rousing tracks like “Seek + Forget” (complete with blackened atmosphere and Motorhead-y melodies) gives them the edge over those acts veering only in a visceral direction.

The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze works because it focuses solely on a few things, and does them extraordinarily well. It’s an album meant to gut-punch, but it’s going to be one you won’t forget anytime soon.

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