Mantar: Ode To The Flame

Teutonic sludge terrors hit the big time

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One of the more surprising events within the pantheon of extreme music of the past year or so has been the signing of Mantar to Nuclear Blast.

Not that the punishing display of their debut Death By Burning isn’t worthy of accolades, but just how much a label that houses Slayer, Destruction, Exodus, Testament and various symphonic and power metal bands is going to gel with a German noise-slash-sludge duo is curious. Either way, all that boardroom handwringing and projection chart bullshit means little to the men of Mantar as they’ve apparently taken as many steps toward inaccessibility as not. A statement is made with the slinky, yet noisy and pounding, opener Carnal Rising, which throws in organ drones that recall 60s prog and 70s experimental music.

Hanno Klänhardt’s voice sounds rawer and more pained, mixing well with the heads-down barrelling of tracks like Born Reversed and Oz, which roll out riffs that swing between palm-muted crunch’n’chug and layers of dynamic psychedelia.

Paradoxically, many songs (Era Borealis and Schwanenstein) nudge aside the notion of populist groove, while still retaining anthemic qualities to their choruses, making Ode To The Flame a beast on many different levels.