Mantric Momentum – Trial by Fire (Frontiers Music)

Friday, 18th November 2022
Rating: 8 / 10

Originally developing as a singles-oriented outfit full of guest musicians to support guitarist Christer Harøy’s songwriting with Jacob Hansen, Mantric Momentum soon shifted into a full-album deal for Frontiers Music. Seeking out one permanent singer, Christer reached out to Pyramaze vocalist Terje Harøy, as they happen to be cousins – the results of which become Trial by Fire. Compared to the work of Christer’s main act Divided Multitude, these twelve songs showcase a bit more sturdy, melodic metal platform, the emphasis on strong guitar hooks, steady rhythm section support, as well as the incredibly elegant, versatile melodies gliding over the top of these catchy proceedings.

Christer handles triple duty for the majority of the record as guitarist, bassist and drummer – although there are times where a little more flash/flair in the latter department comes from Frank Nordeng Røe on three cuts, Lawrence Dinamarca for “Course of Fate” as well as Truls Haugen on “(I’ll Never Be) Maria Magdalena”. The cascading, sturdy riffs and supporting guitar harmonies allow “Course of Fate” to be a stellar track, the vocals traversing melodic metal/AOR-terrain, while the subtle, stunted transitions plus melodic, smooth lead break expand the arrangement into progressive terrain. Subdued, clean musical parts allow a calmer, restrained delivery from Terje to take ahold of “Fighter” – the thoughtful pacing of this ballad reminding this scribe of mid/late 90’s period Riot. When choosing to be adventurous in calmer meets heavier atmosphere or adding outside acoustic elements against natural electric instrumentation, you get a fine eight-minute plus effort with “Diamond” – neoclassical twin guitar spots alluring against the grandiose vocal harmonies. The bonus cut (“I’ll Never Be) Maria Magdalena” features keyboard parts from Ketil A Jensen and a vocal assist from Tina Gunnarsson, a rocking finale that seems very playful in terms of its main musical hooks and tough as nails chorus.

In an hour you’ll understand the multi-dimensional approach of Mantric Momentum – encompassing a wide array of European melodic metal, AOR, and progressive influences with Trial by Fire. It’s sure to appease most listeners who love the work of Christer and Terje over the years and may expose them to more of an eclectic audience in the process.

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