Mantar

support Dreich
author AP date 05/05/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

How refreshing to witness the solid turnout at BETA on a conflicted evening such as this, what with both Iggy Pop and the annual W:O:A Metal Battle scheduled to take place on Ascension Day alongside my personal choice Mantar, whose sophomore album ”Ode to the Flame” was just reviewed on our webzine. Although the venue is by no means close to maximum capacity, a good 80 to 100 patrons have nonetheless deemed it worthwhile to watch the German extreme metal duo plying their trade, which represents a more than decent achievement for what is still a relatively unknown orchestra without any notable support bands. There is the emerging local quartet Dreich to be sure, but in honesty it is rather the growing hype surrounding the headliners right now that serves as the main draw. And so, without further ado, let us find out how each of the two artists fared.

Dreich

Dreich, like the evening’s main act, work with a plethora of influences within the extreme domains of metal, sprouting from their heavy stoner-doom foundation via striking dynamic turns. In the space of the first song alone, the Copenhagen-based four-piece has managed to incorporate doom, hardcore, sludge and black metal onto their palette, though it must be said that the transitions are not always executed with the utmost finesse; they come across rather as sudden, jagged shards than graceful movements, and as a result, the band’s music is a little difficult to latch onto — at least in terms of first impressions. But there is promise here, certainly, with especially the lapse into a tribal, psychedelic séance reminiscent of Atomikylä in one of the later songs stroking my appetite for the weird and entrancing. It is a shame the guitarist wrenches a string halfway creating an unnatural pause, as until that point Dreich had settled into a pretty engaging groove. The performance is marked by your prototype stoner demeanour — that is, each musician fixed to a position yet looking pleasantly lost in the moment, and the vocalist staring into the distance with wild, urgent eyes whilst spitting out his snarly growls — and similarly, the songs themselves offer little by way of innovation or original ideas to freeze one’s attention. Rather, Dreich trust in the general appeal of doom laden stoner metal riffs to metalheads, and thus pull off their set with confidence. This is decent stuff, but its lasting value suffers from the brevity of the show, as music such as this tends to requires time to properly sink in.

5

Mantar

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I tend to approach duos with skepticism in the live setting. They need to shoulder a full band’s weight in terms of not only sound, but also showmanship with the crowd’s attention so intensely focused on the two musicians. But in Mantar’s case, the absence of a bassist or second guitarist never becomes an issue; vocalist / guitarist Hanno Klänhardt has enough amps and pedals around him to annihilate our hearing if he so wishes, and his compatriot drummer Erinç Sakarya has a way of challenging the tenacity of his kit with such ferocity that the two musicians easily make up for the missing numbers in their ranks. The two musicians are set up in such a way that they face each other, thus creating an interaction where it seems like one is constantly challenging the other to outdo him, and thereby a performance which grows more intense by the second. To their advantage also, Klänhardt has this deranged air about him, all bulging whites, inhuman leg splits and frequent collapses to his knees as he lets rip the savage riffs in songs like “Cult Witness” and “Cross the Cross”, and his maniacal antics appear to fuel Sakarya into ever more impassioned (read: frenetic) beating, swear pouring from his every pore.

The only thing to criticise about the duo would be the construction of the setlist, which heavily favours the simpler, hard hitting picks from their two records. It is not until the very end of the performance that the more atmospheric, melody stricken pieces such as “The Stoning” make an appearance (much to my welcome), and as a result, a significant portion of the show sounds a little un-nuanced. Furthermore, the fact that the vast majority of tonight’s audience is so pacific gives those mosh friendly tracks that occupy much of the setlist nigh impossible working conditions. Indeed, Mantar’s showmanship here deserves a more frenzied reaction than is the case here, and while from a critical standpoint you must admire the duo’s chutzpah, its relentless energy, the show is inescapably afflicted by the subdued sensation that hangs over the audience. You have got to applaud Mantar for giving it their everything, but tonight, the concert never reaches the sort of shared, intimate experience where the line between band and fans becomes blurred and the intensity becomes so tangible you could touch it. Do not let my observations hold you back, however, as the vigour shown by Mantar tonight, if properly reciprocated, has the potential to translate into some legendary gigs.

7

Setlist:

  • 01. Praise the Plague
  • 02. Spit
  • 03. Cult Witness
  • 04. Astral Kannibal
  • 05. Cross the Cross
  • 06. Era Borealis
  • 07. Into the Golden Abyss
  • 08. Swinging the Eclipse
  • 09. The Huntsmen
  • 10. Sundowning
  • 11. The Stoning
  • 12. White Nights

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