MANTICORA – Safe
Since Blind Guardian rates in my top 5 bands of all time when it comes to metal, I’m very intrigued by groups who take the core of their sound and interpret it in their own special way. Sweden’s Persuader would be the first to really capture an international audience during the past decade with their influence and Denmark’s Manticora following close behind. The five-piece concentrate on a lot of the speed metal aspects that became a BG staple during their “Follow The Blind” and “Tales From The Twilight World” albums- while also generating a progressive feel with some of the riff changes and time signature juggling.
Vocalist Lars F. Larsen draws comparison to Hansi of course, and yet when listening to tracks like “Complete” and the title track he delivers a compelling, convincing range of emotions with deeper depth and strength. Musically the epic 14 minute “Safe” gives the listener all aspects of the Manticora style – power, speed, turbo charged rhythms and harmonies galore in the guitar and vocal departments. Opener “In The Abyss Of Desperation” charges due to Mads Volf’s incessant snare/double bass fury and contains some of Lars’ best up and down melody making creativity – especially in the harmonic background and chorus work.
Overall on these 7 songs guitarists Kristian Larsen and Martin Arendal fill every crevice with their ability to keep the rhythms and solo work catchy and entertaining all the same. Their best work on Safe includes the Maiden-esque off time chops within “Silence The Freedom” where the duo generate a similar atmosphere as “Phantom Of The Opera” and the straightforward heaviness within “From The Pain Of Loss” where Larsen and Arendal throw down some slow building harmony solo work.
The multi-layered approach gives Manitcora and “Safe” a winning formula- one that I foresee gaining broader appeal as the band tour the world and show their wares.