Style: Black Crust Doom
Similar bands: Salute, Sacroscum, Pillärs
Release date: 24.08.2018
Label: Nuclear Blast
The euphoria you feel when listening to incredibly good albums is often difficult to put into words. When meeting friends to listen to music, it’s quite easy to express this enthusiasm almost wordless, supported by a few bottles of beer. In a review, of course, it’s far more difficult and sometimes takes a couple of attempts before you believe that the words you have just written can do justice to the album.
Not surprisingly (after this introduction) “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” is not only incredibly good, it is also incredibly difficult to put into words. Challenge accepted …
With the two previous albums, MANTAR (which is Turkish for “mushroom”) have created the perfect starting point for further developing their unmistakable style, without risking bouncing off their own fanbase. Because as a supporter of the pyromaniac duo (note the name of the albums) you have certainly never experienced their music wearing blinders, but you could always be certain that the two sympathetic guys will constantly produce something unique. In other words: if the band from Bremen, Germany remains true to themselves and their style, they can not possibly put a premature end to their further rocket-like ascent.
And so, logically, MANTAR did not completely reinvent themselves on “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze”. But at the same time, a lot of stuff has changed! More specifically, the trademarks of the first two albums have been distilled and enhanced.
It is noticeable in the first place that many songs have more structure than on the previous albums. On top, the band now often sounds like a common line-up with a second guitar and a bass guitar. In the song “Anti Eternia” you can even hear something that could be described as a guitar solo, at least in the crude sound cosmos of MANTAR. With more classic songwriting and a lot more atmosphere (note the intro, the recurring organ or the whale sounds in “Teeth of the Sea”) the focus on this album seems to be more on Black Metal. So less MOTÖRHEAD, but more DARKTHRONE? MANTAR do not make the search for stylistic comparisons that simple, because obviously Doom, Punk and Stoner Rock are still equal components in the songwriting of the duo. In their calmer moments MANTAR now even remotely remind of the progressive THE OCEAN (in their harder moments).
But regardless of all these developments, the sound of MANTAR is still “pretty primitive music for primitive people, made by primitive people”, to quote singer/guitarist Hanno, because the riff and the beat still have the highest priority here.
Perhaps it should be mentioned that the choice of the relief “Der Lichtbringer” as a cover motif is not a cheap trick to catch attention by provocation. The relief is provocative insofar as that the artist Bernhard Hoetger was a sympathizer of National Socialism and party member of the NSDAP, even if he was later excluded from it and his work was classified as “degenerate art”. You may find a very detailed statement of the band on Facebook.
MANTAR will certainly gain new fans with “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze”, perhaps even from a broader audience, but are far from beeing hipster-compatible or of selling-out. Great band, awesome album!