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EP REVIEW: The Spell – Mantar

Black/sludge and slightly punk duo MANTAR are about to release their upcoming EP, The Spell. The record builds upon an ever-growing discography since their conception in 2013, beginning with their Spit/White Nights single. Since then, the band has released two full length albums, with the most recent being last year’s Ode to the Flame. After receiving strong feedback in the past, how have the band fared with The Spell?

The EP wastes no time in getting right into it with Pest Crusade. An immediately malevolent feel seeps from the EP, with “Suffer” growling before a heavy drum pattern and a chugging guitar to get you moving your head to almost immediately.  Showing small nods to both punk and sludge, with a black metal twist to it, it’s a great display of their development from record to record. Compared to Ode to the Flame, it feels like the band have deviated from a more sludge-focused vibe, and instead headed right for a heavily evil, black metal influenced sound. It works.

Age of the Vril is a continuation of this gritty, black metal feel. Rasping vocals and a slow drum pattern kick the track off strong, but once the chorus hits, everything past that is significantly more manic and ruthless. Possessing an almost anthemic feel, Hanno’s vocals and guitar work, paired with Erinc’s drumming talent, make this a cracking track for getting the blood pumping. On their upcoming tour, this would be a welcome mosh-inducing addition to the setlist.

The title track for the EP is the true standout, with a guest appearance Okoi Jones from BÖLZER in the form of some savage vocals. A monumentally heavy combination of sludge and black metal, it feels as if MANTAR have really found their sound in this EP. While their older material, especially Ode to the Flame, isn’t too dissimilar from what’s offered on The Spell (the EP features tracks that were supposed to be on Ode…), you can definitely hear progression in both Hanno and Erinc’s contributions. The Spell was actually one of the first pieces that MANTAR wrote back in 2013, however it has only been recorded and released in The Spell, making it a treat for original fans. An excellent aspect of The Spell is the production, as it adds to the raw force and power coming from the duo. By not focusing on creating a highly-polished record, the EP maintains a heavy punk element, even in sections where it’s predominantly black and sludge influenced. Some repetitive drum patters here and there hinder the impact of the EP somewhat, with sections feeling a little too similar, but this doesn’t massively damage how good MANTAR‘s offering is.

MANTAR‘s The Spell is an exciting insight into what the band are up to next. Building off their previous work and continuing to bend the boundaries of sub-genres to their will with their array of influences, they’re definitely capable of making a mark in metal today. Short but sweet, it’s a sign of what’s to come from the German duo, and if The Spell is any indicator of that, their future is looking strong. This EP would be a great starting point for those who are looking for a new mix of genres to experiment with.

Rating: 8/10

The Spell - Mantar

The Spell is set for release on March 31st via Nuclear Blast Records.

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