Mantar – Pain is Forever and This is the End Review

Emerging in 2014 with underground smash Death by Burning, Germany’s Mantar crafted a rifftastic, bludgeoning blend of punked-up sludge, featuring blackened overtones and mean, dirty hooks. Sophomore LP Ode to the Flame upped the game, retaining the debut’s raw edges, without sacrificing their uncompromising heaviness and hooky writing. However, 2018’s solid The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze was more refined, smoothing the jagged edges of their first two albums, yet not quite hitting the lofty songwriting standards. Without ringing alarm bells, it perhaps showed very faint cracks of stagnation, despite being a solid offering. After smashing out three albums and gathering loads of momentum over a five-year period, Mantar have remained quiet on the recording front, aside from a collection of cover songs. Pleasingly, Mantar return with their anticipated fourth offering, boasting a cool album title and minimalistic cover art. Can Erinc (drums) and Hanno (guitars, vocals) muster the creative energy and belly fire to deliver a knockout punch?

The raw aesthetics and punky sense of danger featured on Mantar‘s first two albums has been slightly buffed in favor of a cleaner, groovier approach. However, while Pain is Forever and This is the End features the streamlined sonic template of its immediate predecessor, musically Mantar packs a solid punch and rumbling authority. Sleek production is balanced by rugged tones and a refreshingly dynamic master lends welcome breathing space. Otherwise, Mantar do not deviate far from the equal parts rollicking and menacing blackened sludge rock base that bookends their swaggering sound. Mantar cut the bullshit and come hurtling out the gates on barnstorming opener “Egoisto,” a chunky, punky riff beast, loaded with penetrating hooks and diverse vocal performance. It sets the tone, cementing early momentum amid trademark tough, riff-driven grooves.

The songs are laden with nasty, beef-caked riffs, boisterous grooves, and sneering, violent overtones, reinforced with Hanno’s seething snarls and growls. It is perhaps Mantar’s most accessible release, though don’t let that scare you off, the duo remain an uncompromising and destructive force. The anthemic crunch of “Hang ‘Em Low (So the Rats Can’t Get ‘Em)” is an absolute banger, featuring a hopelessly addictive chorus hook and boisterous drive. While there is a certain element difficult to pinpoint that the band has struggled to recapture from their first two albums, a Mantar release is always a good time and Pain is Forever… is no exception. Mantar manage to sound increasingly refined and accessible through infectious songcraft, shrewd use of melody, and prominent brawling grooves, while retaining the toughened exterior and feral edge that is their trademark. Pain is Forever… is a gratifying, deceptively diverse and consistent listen, where skyscraping blackened rock hooks comfortably reside against Mantar‘s grittier, no-holds-barred aesthetic.

“Grim Reaping” hits a satisfying sweet spot between big dumb hooks and burly, badassery, “Piss Ritual” burns with rotten punk fury and jugular gripping intensity, while the doomy, snarling swagger of “Walking Corpse” is all piss, vinegar and bloody knuckled crunch, each song reinforced with memorable hooks, riffs and sinister melodic currents. Elsewhere, the doomy vibes and expansive melodies rear their head on tracks like the effectively moody closer “Odysseus.” The lengthy gap between original recordings has not led to major experimentation or extreme stylistic shifts, however, I would argue this is Mantar‘s most straight-up hard rocking and fun effort. It almost sets off some Midnight vibes in terms of the raucous spirit emanating from each bludgeoning, hooky note. The “more of the same” approach has been tweaked and enlivened enough through energetic performances and tight, memorable writing to ward off stagnation.

Pain is Forever and This is the End is not going to sway opinions either way regarding Mantar‘s musical weapons of choice. Nor can I confidently claim it to be Mantar‘s best offering, yet it is a definite grower and infectiously catchy return, comfortably trumping its predecessor in production and consistent, memorable songwriting. After being guilty of overrating their past couple of albums, I am taking a more conservative approach.1 Overall, it’s a tidy collection of very good to formidable tunes not easily forgotten. Whether it will usurp Mantar‘s first couple of LPs remains to be seen, but the background concerns that lingered after their last album are diminished by the looming presence and energized writing chops confidently exhibited on this latest platter.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 15th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Employee o’ the Month awarded! – Steel
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