Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Release Date: 28/08/2020
Running Time: 63:23
Review by Chris Galea
(Here at Ever Metal, albums sometimes slip through our net but then our radar picks them up a couple of months after their release. This is one such case…)
Soon you’ll need more than two hands to count Manticora’s albums and yet this is my first foray into the band’s music. For the sake of those who share my inadvertence, the band is a quintet from Denmark who describes their music as Power Prog Metal and have quite recently reshuffled their line-up. Right, that’s the pleasantries taken care of. Now onto the nitty-gritty of the matter…
The album is confusingly called “To Live To Kill To Live” – a title doubly-confusing when considering that the previous album, released 2 years ago, was called “To Kill to Live to Kill”. In fact, both albums are part of the same concept and the band has even published a book recounting the tale within these 2 albums. Despite being an avid reader, I haven’t yet read the book but from what I’ve gathered it’s a dark and violent tale involving a hitman and a deranged mind.
I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by this album. I mean it’s easy to name-drop the music…Kamelot and Blind Guardian immediately spring to mind. But Manticora infuse a wide variety of musical elements to create a powerful and utterly convincing blend of Metal.
“To Live To Kill To Live” is epic, dramatic and vivid and within it Manticora has created music that flows in tandem with the concept. For example… even if you ignore its lyrics, the music of the last track – ‘Katana – Beheaded’ – really coveys the feeling that this is a showdown, the climax of the story arc.
The first track is also quite epic. ‘Katana – The Moths And The Dragonflies/Katana – Mud ‘ is over 14 minutes long and encompasses some furious blastbeats, a wide range of singing styles, atmosphere, aggression, power, guitar solos…and it all flows so beautifully.
I mentioned the drumming….before recording this album, Manticora recruited Lawrence Dinamarca and boy can he play! His drumming gives the album’s intensity a life of its own and is one of the reasons why songs such as ‘Through The Eyes Of The Killer – Filing Teeth’ or ‘Slaughter In The Desert Room’ sometimes set foot in Black Metal territory.
But it’s not just Dinamarca because in reality all the band members are on the ball. Vocalist Lars F. Larsen, for example, soars, screams and whispers with ease. In the last track ‘Katana – Beheaded ‘ his singing reminded me of Russell Allen and in fact there are a number of riffs in the album that reminded me of Symphony X. One minor gripe concerns ‘The Farmer’s Tale Pt. 3 – Eaten By The Beasts’ which has so many vocal harmonisations that you can’t discern the actual voice but as I’ve argued earlier, that factor is offset by a wide variety of singing techniques that really enrich the album.
At over 60 minutes duration “To Live To Kill To Live” is quite long but I didn’t feel that that was a huge problem. This is the first Manticora album I’ve delved into but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve just stumbled upon a goldmine.
01. Katana – The Moths And the Dragonflies/Katana – Mud
02. To Nanjing (Instrumental)
03. The Farmer’s Tale Pt. 3 – Eaten By The Beasts
04. Slaughter In The Desert Room
05. Through The Eyes Of The Killer – Filing Teeth
06. Katana – Death Of The Meaning Of Life
07. Tasered/Ice Cage
08. Goodbye Tina
10. Stalin Strikes (Instrumental)
11. Ten Thousand Cold Nights
12. Katana – Beheaded
Kristian Larsen – Guitars
Lars F. Larsen – Vocals
Stefan Johansson – Guitars
Kasper Gram – Bass
Lawrence Dinamarca – Drums
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