ALBUM REVIEW: Mantar ‘Ode To The Flame’

mantar-odetotheflame

MANTAR
‘Ode To The Flame’
(Nuclear Blast, April 2016)
8/10

The second album from the German/Turkish sludge duo (and first for the monster that is Nuclear Blast) is a gleefully furious and furiously inventive continuation of the band’s curious story.

Opening track ‘Carnal Rising’ is a cheap and cheerful eruption of power that represents their unfeasible power (how can two people create mayhem that sounds like the day the dinosaurs were wiped out?) but not necessarily their quality.

Then, after another song of pummelling rage, Mantar drop the pace and embark on some Cerebral Fix-style thrash-doom merriment, with a hint of the Dead Kennedys for extra flavour. ‘The Hint’ continues the slowed-down savagery – it’s a kind of blood-curdling sludge ballad of immense proportions, even introducing an epic church organ into the lo-fi mix.

Throughout it all, the pair take huge delight in their ability to devastate. Their thundering sound and stark intensity is the bare stage upon which their inventiveness can shine – ‘Born Reversed’ is a seemingly simple song of pounding mid-paced punk/stoner/black/doom that is laced with quirks and surprises. And by the time ‘Cross The Cross’ comes around, with its cheery rock-sludge sensibilities, it is clear that nothing is off-limits.

Even more than the band’s debut album, ‘Ode To The Flame’ takes the tropes and traditions of various genres and fucks with them like a cruel child. This experimentation, coupled with their ability to concoct crowd-pleasing arrangements, gives them a wide appeal. On the other hand, the disorientating fury spilling from this duo’s battered instruments guarantees a certain underground charm. Mantar’s latest release is a healthy mix of violence and elegance, power and adventure – and all using just a guitar and drums.

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