Manticora – Mycelium (Mighty Music)

Friday, 26th January 2024
Rating: 9 / 10

Danish band Manticora since arriving on the scene in 1997 has developed a thoughtful style that may be progressive power metal at its core, but also branches out into black, death, thrash, and traditional heavy metal pastures. Favorite records in the discography for this scribe include 2004’s 8 Deadly Sins as well as their previous two album conceptual outings 2018’s To Kill to Live To Kill and 2020’s To Live to Kill to Live. The ninth studio album Mycelium is another conceptual offering, streamlined in a ten-track, 48-minute odyssey – illustrating the group’s talent in bringing sophisticated, passionate principles to a fervent fanbase craving their creative output.

Tight, stunted guitar/drum syncopation fuels many of the musical highlights on early offerings such as “Necropolitans” and it’s thunderous follow-up “Demonday” – the latter containing some interesting left-field nuances between the tremolo runs, blast beat sections, or supplementary fierce screams next to the Warrel Dane-esque main melodic delivery of vocalist Lars F. Larsen. Throughout the record, you get the sense that these gentlemen felt the need to tackle emotions in a much more raw, aggressive manner – channeling the atmosphere of tumultuous times into this explosive combustion of energy that’s hard to miss (or resist). The guitar work of Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson encompasses a wide array of speedy to intricate measures, always sculpting thick rhythms beyond the emotive lead breaks that provides a multitude of supreme key moments (bookmark “Beast of the Fall” and the doomier, power metal-oriented “Angel of the Spring here). While the orchestration has been dialed down from previous efforts, it’s sprinkled in to maximum impact for “Mementopolis”, where some spacious lower-tone driving riffs sit next to an adventurous double kick-fueled foundation, the transitions heart stopping in a majestic, theatrical manner next to some operatic choir and savage extreme background vocal supplementation. Even the short instrumentals “Winter Solstice” and “Equinox” provide aural context to advance the storyline in a logical way, setting the stage for the next full songs.

Much like fellow Danish band Mercenary, Manticora may not necessarily be the most popular act in their niche – yet do not discount the talent, the songwriting, and depth of performances they’ve executed since the start. Mycelium represents another powerful example of what the metal genre can offer on multiple angles without compromise, facing forward to deliver a top-notch record that takes what Nevermore and Communic offer to the next level.

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