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Mantar - Ode To The Flame

Ode To The Flame
by Sammy M at 14 July 2016, 2:13 PM

One thing that German sludge/black metal band MANTAR have got going for them is that, for having only two members in Hanno and Erinc (these seem to be the only names that they are known by), they create a very full sound. The sophomore album “Ode To The Flame” is a massive improvement over their last outing, however it still feels fairly average for a band that clearly has the potential to make something much better.

The instrumental side of the album is very good. The sludge roots make it an extremely slow and heavy form of black metal that comes through as extremely dark, even for a very dark genre. There’s a rustic feel to the recording that makes it feel rather amateur in a good way, and furthers the gritty atmosphere of the album. The vocals are what lets this down as they feel pretty weak in comparison to the strong music behind them. I can’t help but feel that expanding the line-up of the band to adding a full time vocalist, or perhaps letting Hanno focus on vocal duties instead of splitting between vocal and guitar, that this could improve and we would get a stronger sound from the band. It’s not to say that it’s bad, just needs a bit more power and feeling to it. The guitar playing and drumming are extremely strong so this really does seem to be a small complaint.

The album starts off fairly rough, but managed to get a bit more of a foothold with “Era Borealis”, a dark and powerful song that gave a clear example of why this album is an improvement over 2014s “Death By Burning”. The other song that stood out is “I Omen”. This was far more typical black metal sounding than the rest, complete with a haunting intro that had me thinking this would have been perfectly placed as an opening track in order to set the stage for the rest of the album. It’s powerful and emotional in an otherwise fairly emotionless feeling album. The vocals are at their strongest here as well, as they seem to be pulled forward to the front of the track a bit more. The second half of the album, as a whole was far stronger than the first, as up until “I Omen” the tracks almost sounded like they blended together as there was so little variety. The second half was more powerful, more emotional, and far darker than I was starting to get used to.

So while “Ode To The Flame” isn’t an amazing album, it’s certainly not bad thanks to its second half. With how much they have improved in two years, I expect that their next outing will be even stronger. The rustic feel, and the slow sludge style absolutely work for them, it’s just a shame that the entire album didn’t have more of that variety to it.

Songwriting: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Memorability: 5/10
Production: 8/10


3 Star Rating

01. Carnal Rising
02. Praise The Plague
03. Era Borealis
04. The Hint
05. Born Reversed
06. Oz
07. I Omen
08. Cross The Cross
09. Schwananstein
10. Sundowning
Hanno – Vocals/Guitar
Erinc – Drums/Vocals
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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