MantarArtworkGerman duo Mantar stormed the underground, cracking skulls and galloping to glory with their scorching debut album, Death by Burning in 2014. Fusing raucous black metal with spiteful sludge and doomy slogs, Mantar’s punked-up energy, fuck-the-world attitude and an abundance of primal riffs and gnarly hooks kept me gripped and hungry for more. On the back of the album Mantar deservedly scored a deal with Nuclear Blast for the anticipated release of the all important sophomore album. So with the big wigs behind them, can Mantar deliver on the considerable promise they displayed first time round? Hell fucking yes they can! Ode to the Flame doesn’t expand dramatically upon the solid groundwork of the debut, largely sticking to the blueprint that worked so well, but just like any successful follow-up to a successful debut, the duo of Hanno (vocals, guitar) and Erinc (drums, vocals) have upped the ante significantly in pretty much every department, strengthening their bruising formula and refining their skills as both songwriters and musicians.

Sounding even heavier and more intimidating than the already imposing presence they established on Death by Burning, Mantar go about their business with a confident swagger and full bodied conviction which they commit to each hefty, feedback drenched riff and earth rumbling rhythm. Mantar sure as shit know how to bring the heavy, and Ode to the Flame is one hell of a mean motherfucker boasting a dark oppressive streak, however it’s their supreme ability to mesh these raw, ugly elements with deeply penetrating vocal hooks and infectious riffs that sets them apart. When the band eventually locks into gear on opener “Carnal Rising” the buzzing, sludgy riffs could ground a herd of elephants. The song holds its own as a bludgeoning scene setter, before the excellent “Praise the Plague” gives a stronger taste of the high quality that is upheld throughout Ode to the Flame. Featuring a hard-hitting punch and groove, it’s anchored by a delightfully heavy blues-drenched doom riff which showcases Mantar’s superior riffs and catchy songwriting skills.

Mantar’s songwriting weapons of choice are relatively simple and effective, alternating between their rollicking brand of punky, blackened extreme rock and colossally heavy passages of sludgified doom. The pacing and flow of the album is more cohesive and consistent this time around, with each song carefully crafted, memorable and engaging, gripping from the outset yet revealing some surprising subtleties and melody within the band’s grim and thunderous assault. Dark, stormy and boasting great riffs and a typically biting vocal performance from Hanno, “Era Borealis” is a muscular and addictive gem, rocking an anthemic chorus and bludgeoning groove. “The Hint” takes it back a notch with excellent results, sporting an undercurrent of bleak melody and addictive hooks as Hanno’s seething rasp spouts despondent lyrics and the whole songs shakes with an imposing doom rumble. More upbeat, riff-driven gems like “Born Reversed,” “OZ” and the delightfully diseased hooks and dirgey breakdowns of “Cross the Cross” offer lively contrasts and powerhouse dynamics, as Mantar blast out charred punk-sludge juggernauts with riffs to burn. The two man wrecking ball bring the album to a crushing halt with the rugged sonic assault and muscular sludge-doom heft of “Sundowning.”

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Bolstered by a fuller, meatier production, it’s amazing the sheer amount of sonic girth these dudes are able to muster, even if the end result is unfortunately brickwalled. This was a problem with the debut as well, yet somehow I find it less debilitating to the finished product than other similarly compressed recordings. The guitars sound huge and clear, full of bite and necessary heft, while Erinc’s tasteful and forceful drumming is complimented by thudding organic tones and crisp cymbals. Ode to the Flame was on a shortlist of my most anticipated albums of 2016 and after many repeat listens I’m more than satisfied with what the lads have conjured up here and in the mature fashion they have developed their sound. Aside from a less than ideal mastering job and the fact that the best songs set the bar almost impossibly high for the rest of the album, there are no obvious or glaring weak links holding things back.

Raw and bludgeoning and seething with pissed-off belligerence, Mantar still manage to write songs that are loads of catchy, rocking fun and. Ode to the Flame is a rousing success that finds the inventive duo playing out of their skins, taking their intimidating metallic hybrid to the next level and cashing in on their considerable potential to firmly cement themselves as serious power players in the worldwide metal scene.


Rating: 4.5 /5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: mantarbandcamp.com | facebook.com/mantarband
Releases Worldwide: April 15th, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I never endorse brickwalling, but DAMN this record sounds huge. The volume suits the music quite well, and while I’d love to see a little more in the dynamic department, this is some ridiculously angry stuff. Review was A+ entertainment, looking forward to jamming this!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    If I had to be picky, I’d say the cover “art” is a letdown after their first album.

    • lennymccall

      Yeah it’s like they feel they gave too much on the first one so they held back for this one…

    • Blueberry Balls

      One of my favs. Dead on man.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    A stream of the album was posted on Decibel yesterday, but it’s not working. : (

  • Brother Ben

    This is awesome. That chorus on the embedded track is mighty

  • El_Cuervo

    Era Borealis sounds great, looking forward to the 15th!

  • TminusEight

    I like it. The bass tone reminds me of the Bombus album, but this is heavier and darker. Good stuff.

  • DrChocolate

    *school girl squeal* I’m so excited for this album. Death By Fire didn’t leave regular rotation for months. Even more stoked to see this positive of a review, there’s always that sophomore slump fear when a debut is as strong as there’s was. Pre-order can’t get here fast enough.

  • OzanCan

    For a Turkish metalhead, the band name is kinda funny, nevertheless their sound is awesome!

    • SegaGenitals

      Fungus! Ha.

  • The real strength of this this album lies upon the really catchy songs that stick to your head instantly by first listen. It’s funny how rare are albums like this nowadays in the extreme metal underground which concentrate on well shaped tracks instead of how to hide bad musicianship and the lack of talent in songwriting under some murky dissonant and so-called atmospheric sound.

    • AndySynn

      My, that’s an awfully wide brush you’re painting with there. Can I ask where you got it from?

  • Siege Bantayan

    Aaaaaah. When I saw that they were streaming their album I hoped for an AMG review. Good stuff!

  • lennymccall

    Jonesing for this! First song released was great, glad to hear the rest of it lives up to the hype. First day purchase.

    Oh shit for some reason I coulda swore this was only an EP, but it’s a full record. STOKED!

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    Good review. I’ve been anticipating this one for a while. On another note, I wonder how much value there is in posting the DR when some DR5 releases are praised while others are panned. It seems to negate the value of capturing the number.

  • Blueberry Balls

    Very excited for this one to drop.

  • tomasjacobi

    Whenever I’ve been listening to progressive/technical whatever genre for a while it’s nice to put something like Mantar on.
    Pure fucking adrenaline!
    This is just as good as the debut, which is high praise in my book.

  • I’m going to lay down some truth and like, I want y’all to listen up.

    Two piece bands are the shit.

    If you haven’t listened to Japandroids’ Celebration Rock album, you should. It’s like a straight punk Mantar.

    This album is awesome. You people are awesome for recognizing that it’s awesome. It’s really awesome that this site exists to make sure awesome people listen to awesome music.

    Hellyeah.

    • Ben Perry

      Black Cobra is another awesome two-piece band.

  • Javier Truyol

    This kicks ass! Era Borealis in particular sounds amazing. Strong contender for the best of the year.