Album: Pain Is Forever and This Is the End
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 15/07/2022
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Mantar rules, this album rules and if you disagree with either of those statements then you’re an idiot. Review over…
I won’t actually leave it here, but I feel like I could and that it would accurately summarise how strongly I feel about Mantar‘s latest opus Pain Is Forever, and This Is the End. The band always manage to have an absolutely massive sound despite only being a two-piece act. As someone who has loved them since their 2016 release Ode to the Flame, I was shocked that I had let the news of this album and the press kits preceding it slip under my radar. As soon as I learned of its existence I immediately listened to it in full and began writing this review.
I’m not sure how to actually describe Mantar’s sound on this album, but my best attempt would be a perfect hybrid of sludge, grunge, rock, black metal and punk. The mixture of these genres is always being altered throughout the album, with different elements taking the lead at any given time. Some songs have a truly harsh bite to them, while others are far catchier. One constant throughout the release though regardless of the aggression employed is the underlying groove present. There’s just a constant presence of catchy melodies and rhythms throughout the album.
The release opens powerfully with Egoisto, a track that immediately sets the tone for the whole release. The song has a real bite to it yet still remains catchy and highly headbangable. The album’s first single and second track Hang Em Low (So the Rats Can Get Em) steps up the catchiness even further and happens to have an incredibly simple yet catchy chorus, one that I’ve found playing over and over again in my head since first hearing it. This song also has some of the most obvious grunge elements on the album (aside from the closer).
Track 3 Grim Reaping has some real black ‘n’ roll energy to it, building its foundation on those rock rhythms and hooks but adding that raw aggression and bite to it. I feel strange saying this but there are some riffs here that make methink of early Ghost (a band I just can’t enjoy no matter how hard I try) but in this context they work perfectly. Skipping ahead slightly to track 6 Of Frost and Decay, this is easily the heaviest and rawest track on the album. The song takes the most black metal and sludge based approach of the entire release and yet it still manages to maintain a catchiness and rhythm to it that somehow doesn’t make it any less heavy or raw. Meanwhile, track 7 Walking Corpse is probably the most aggressive as far as speed and pure energy go, with the song moving at a relentless pace from start to finish.
The album closes out strong with track 10 Odysseus, which in my opinion was the perfect choice for a closer. The song has a fantastic blend of sludge, grunge and rock elements. The track also has some of my favourite vocal work on the album, with a tone being found for the verses that leans far more towards clean vocals but retains just enough bite to be captivating. The chorus adds that bite right back in with another catchy chorus that opens with “I AM ODYSSEUS!”, a line that WILL get stuck in your head.
Overall, this was a fantastic album that shows us that a band can vastly change styles over the span of their career and still maintain the same level of quality musical output. This release is a completely different beast from Ode to the Flame, the album that made me fall in love with the band, but I know for a fact that this album will come to hold an equally as special place in both my heart and my music collection.
Listen to and order the album: