Mantar
Death By Burning

Death By Burning, the debut from Hamburg-based German/Turkish duo Mantar, is an arresting album of raw power, electric energy and ironclad riffage. Hanno (vocals/guitar) and Erinc (drums/backing vocals) showcase the intuitive chemistry and songwriting gift of any great duo, delivering colossal sludge rock grooves reminiscent of classic Melvins, coupled with the blackened attitude of later-era Darkthrone and a driving, surly heavy metal swagger. Mantar play riff driven metal in its purist form, packed to the hilt with ripping vocal hooks and a seemingly endless supply of irresistible riffs.  And while this may sound like a simplistic summation of their ragged sound, Mantar’s uncompromising assault features some nifty variations and a strong overall handle of dynamics.  Any concerns about a lack of low end due to the bass-less set-up are dispelled from the outset, as the thick, weighty tone of Hanno’s guitar cuts an imposing figure on the vicious opening salvo, “Spit”. The raw, punchy production complements their ballsy bluster perfectly, without diluting the duo’s primal urges or sacrificing the overall clarity of the recording.  

Erinc’s drumming is hard hitting and expressive, whether locking down a straight-forward groove or embellishing the songs with more subtle nuances. He instinctively plays within the confines of the guitar-driven onslaught, peppering the songs with some extra flair when the situation warrants.  Meanwhile Hanno deploys a great deal of variety and textures in his intimidating guitar work, easily compensating for the lack of bass and second guitar. The tempo change-ups appear just at the right moments, while Hanno delves out a near constant supply of gnarled, catchy riffs, slivers of melody and feedback drenched textures, enamouring the album with far more depth and weight than a two-man recording has any right to have. The range of riffs is just as impressive; careening from doomy plods, through dirty punk metal riffs, and Nola-infused sludgy dirges, with ample ground covered in-between.  Hanno’s vocals are another strong feature. The bloodthirsty urgency and conviction behind his semi-decipherable delivery oozes menace, his raspy growl the perfectly imperfect mouthpiece to spearhead the onslaught.

The term ‘blackened sludge’ has been thrown about to describe this album, but it only presents a narrow view of what Mantar are all about. It’s more in the variables and execution rather than ground breaking innovation or uniqueness that Mantar excels and transcends easy classification. The duo plays to their strengths, adding clever tempo shifts and dynamics into their no-nonsense metal anthems, while valuing the importance of injecting variety and memorable hooks into their full-blooded offensive. Check out the dirty grooves, riff-driven punch and blackened blasts on “The Huntsman”, or the ridiculously catchy hooks and hellraising riffs on “The Stoning” for further emphasis of just how downright thrilling and diverse the duo’s songwriting can be.

Elsewhere the carnage is similarly destructive, from the feral mid-paced grooves on the instantly catchy “Astral Kannibal”; to the urgent, punk infected gallop and dialled back tempo shift of the powerhouse “Swinging the Eclipse”; the album maintains a high standard across its 45-minute duration. The only slight misstep is when Hanno’s rabid snarl goes AWOL in favor of the spoken word storytelling and dark, doomy riffs on “The Berserkers Path”.  Despite its change in tact and shortish length (2.29 mins), Hanno’s distinctive snarl is notably missed.

Death By Burning gradually descends into its own downward spiral, concluding with the punishing one-two punch of “White Nights” and “March of the Crows”.  Hanno’s impassioned howl bleeds emotion on the foreboding sludge stomp of the former; while the latter is a bleak, apocalyptic funeral march, minus vocals but armed with crushing doom riffs and sinister strands of melody poking through the suffocating darkness.

Death By Burning is a bludgeoning album that hacks firm tracks in the brain and counteracts its primitive edges with genuine songwriting smarts and relentless energy and aggression.  The duo has captured lightning in a bottle with an astounding debut that bodes well for a very bright future.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 3rd, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Decent. I hear some Kvelertak in here


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