I’m a latecomer to Mantar’s work, but I can tell you that if you’re looking for filthy, ugly blackened metallic punk that’s still catchy as fuck, then they stand head and shoulders above most of their peers.
Mantar remind me of Wolvhammer in the sense that they are both able to combine underground extremity with a type of catchiness that belies the core ferocity of the music. Think a mix of Darkthrone, Motörhead, Melvins, and AC/DC for a general starting point for Mantar. For more modern references, Wolvhammer, Celeste, Ilsa, Tombs, and Sunlight’s Bane should give you an idea of what Mantar get up to on The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, at least roughly.
The songwriting is on fire. How on earth do Mantar write such catchy slabs of unfriendliness? Their mix of blackened doom groove and punk venom is effortlessly moulded into songs that spit and kick, but are not without signs of thoughtful consideration or dark introspection. This is a well-rounded album, and the songs reflect the band’s talented songcraft.
Although rooted in Mantar’s trademark stomping riffs and belligerent attitude, each song here has its own personality and delivers something of its own. This balance of diversity and holistic flow is one of the reasons why this album is so effective. That, and how catchy these tracks are. Have I mentioned the word catchy in this review yet? No? Then let me reiterate; The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze is catchy as fuck. Oh yes.
I think that when you get to the core of what Mantar are all about, it essentially boils down to the riffs. The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze is all about riffs, riffs, riffs. Mantar have these in spades, and know how to wield them effectively. Not just this though, as Mantar are also extremely proficient in melding these riffs with the caustic vocals and the driving drums. The end result is songs that rip, tear, and claw their way through the 48 minutes of material on The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze so well that before you know it you’ve started to listen to the album all over again.
Raw black metal and energetically nasty punk, with a hard rocking heart; Mantar have upped the stakes considerably on this album, and The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze really hits the spot.