Mantar - The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
Nuclear Blast
Blackened Sludge
12 songs (47:44)
Release year: 2018
Mantar, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

German power duo Mantar are hard to sum up in a few words, although Unsane plus black metal is probably the simplest. The band throws a lethally effective combination of genres from black to sludge into the mix and makes a solidly original rocking sound all of their own out of the mess, and third album The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze shows them at the top of their game. The firestarters' songwriting chops have improved to the point where multiple songs here are genuinely catchy without losing that heaviness that marks them as unfit for radio play. Age of the Absurd and Seek + Forget are the first of these, speeding through Satyricon-esque blackened rumbles to deliver emphatically memorable and, especially in the latter, downright anthemic choruses, and doing so distinctly enough to sound fresh.

Mantar are expert at locking in a groove and barrelling it into your brain, whether on the slower and doomier Taurus or faster, spikier cuts like Dynasty of Nails. There's a Motorhead-ish aspect to the rumbling intro to Eternal Return, while Obey the Obscene has a touch of rockstar swagger to the riffing; so versatile is the band's formula that adding little touches of experimentation like sampled speech to the latter or what sounds like a brief speed metal melody to Anti Eternia fit in smoothly. Cuts like The Formation of Night are like some alternate universe Mastodon where they fused their sound with Autopsy-style death metal instead of prog, Hanno's vocals approaching a similar grittiness at points. The song ends with an epic note that had me musing on how well Mantar's sound would mesh with an orchestra, perhaps an experiment too far yet their music has an epic aspect that could be enhanced further...

The band are probably more interested in rocking out, however, the following Teeth of the Sea doing just that with a touch of drone towards the end showing yet another direction that they could take their sound. And even final track The Funeral keeps the quality levels high, a vicious set of lyrics ("I don't want you to wear black when I die, because I'm better than you") fitting the muscular riffs, leaving the drums to add a level of bouncy infectiousness. Perhaps at just under fifty minutes the album is a bit too long, and perhaps the band could mix up the structure of their songs a little more to make the choruses even better, but by and large this is excellent, a focusing of sound from previous albums going to make The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze that rarity: modern metal that doesn't compromise on heaviness in search of fun.

Killing Songs :
Age of the Absurd, Seek + Forget, Dynasty of Nails, Obey the Obscene
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Mantar that we have reviewed:
Mantar - Death by Burning reviewed by Jared and quoted 85 / 100
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