This is the follow up to 2018’s The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, (if you ignore the band’s cover album from 2020), and contains 41 minutes of new material. Pain Is Forever and This Is the End is the next logical evolution of Mantar’s sound, bringing a more direct song-focused approach to the music, while still retaining the vicious heaviness of their previous work. Less black metal, more blackened grungecore. Or something. Whatever you want to call it, it’s damn good.
Mixing black metal with elements of punk, hardcore, doom, grunge, and good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, these songs see the band refining their style and branching out into new areas. Of the latter, this includes a greater range of screams, snarls, shouts, and singing, a significant emphasis on grunge/rock songwriting, more melodic potency, and a different, more varied feel to the guitars.
The well-written songs are absolutely rammed with harsh hooks and catchy barbs. Oh, and the riffs are everywhere! Mantar have always been good at belting out a good tune, but on this latest album they have mastered it. Each song manages to sound both professional and DIY, both accomplished and raw; there’s a duality to the music that’s as compelling as the catchy structures. The grunge and punk influences from the 90s are more noticeable, and the juxtaposition of these against the harsh blackened elements and crushing heaviness of the band’s core sound is infectious.
Pain Is Forever and This Is the End has impressed. I was hoping for something good, but I wasn’t expecting a grunge-soaked blackened journey into catchy heaviness such as this. Mantar’s course-corrected direction suits them perfectly, and this is an album that just keeps on giving.