Mantar – Ode To The Flame (Nuclear Blast)

Genre: Extreme Metal

Sometimes a band like Mantar need to come along and take a rusty hatchet to genre straightjackets: this Hamburg duo aren’t interested in being allied to any scene, they just steal what they need from black metal, crust punk and sludgecore, pack it into a ball of simmering fury and then lob it straight down your lughole. If that sounds enticing, then you’ll understand what drives Ode To The Flame, the band’s second full-length. It ain’t exactly pleasant, but it is thoroughly compelling.

The first few tracks leave you on the receiving end of a brutal pummelling, with the bleak nihilism of songs like Praise the Plague and Carnal Rising sounding like explosions of pent-up frustration, rooted in hardcore but wrapped in BM barbed wire. Yet it’s later in the album that Mantar’s true talent reveals itself, as slower-paced, emotionally fraught pieces such as I Omen cascade out of your speakers  This two-piece clearly know how to write gripping, dynamic intelligent music, and saturate it in pure vitriol – closer Sundown, for instance, is so intense it almost burns as you listen to it, and that was probably the idea.

Are Mantar reinventing the wheel here? Not really. But they display more originality than most of their contemporaries, and aren’t afraid of forging their own path. And that’s worth our respect.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Blazing A Trail