Mantar are a 2 piece from Bremen in Northern German and consist of Hanno on vocals/guitar and Erinç – drums/vocals. The band play a mixture of black metal, doom and punk and Grungetown Hooligans II is their latest album due out on June 26th on Brutal Panda Records.
Despite their ‘metal’ tag, this record pays homage to the bands Mantar grew up with in the 90s when ‘alternative’ meant exactly that. You will not find covers of laddish britpop or fey Indie here (thank Christ), instead you get a fine selection of noise/alt rock, grunge and Riot Girrrlgroups here. The album cover features an El Duce hooded figure brandishing a gun, not the sort of figure you would want to find hanging outside your home anytime soon, an indication of the menace to come.
The opening track was a cover of L7’s The Bomb, the band transformed it into a tasty slice of nasty Poison Idea style punk-metal. The vocals have a black metal flavour but are still decipherable. Next up was The Jesus Lizard’s Puss and if the original was grim, then this was downright deadly. The band tore through it and managed to make it even heavier; the vocals mirrored David Yow’s quite effectively.
Sonic Youth’s 100% with its skateboarding video and slacker cool vibes was about as commercial as that band got. In the hands of Mantar it sounded like Darkthrone, if they lived in New York and went full hipster and that is meant as a compliment. Mazzy Star’s Ghost Highway was inspired by The Doors’ My Eyes Have Seen You and as a massive Hope Sandoval fan I was intrigued to hear what Mantar’s take would be. They’ve toned down the original psychedelic vibes, and instead introduced a dark post-punk sound ala The Scientists that made it less ethereal and more threatening. Spectacular.
They’ve toned down the original psychedelic vibes, and instead introduced a dark post-punk sound ala The Scientists that made it less ethereal and more threatening. Spectacular.
Another track is covered off L7’s Hungry For Stink album, Can I Run. L7 always had a metal core to them, ala Motörhead, and Mantar brought this influence even further to the forefront, with some gruff Lemmy style vocal stylings. Babes In Toyland Bruise Violet was always a very intense tune and Kat Bjelland’s creepy ‘Liar’ refrains were always going to be difficult to recapture. The band however took the right approach and slowed it down to a sludgier pace, therefore they managed to pay tribute to the original without embarrassing themselves by trying to replicate it.
Mudhoney came from the garage-punk wing of the grunge scene and Who You Driving Now was two minutes of Stooges style fun. Mantar gave it a slight makeover and increased the speed without losing the carefree abandon of the original. The band shaved a couple of minutes off 7 Year Bitch’s Knot, the final track on the album andabsolutely roared through it with hardcore punk infused black metal, which reminded me of Darkthrone’s awesome cover of Sixousie And The Banshee’s Love In A Void, a fantastic way to end the album.
Grungetown Hooligans II sure is fun and at eight tracks and twenty four minutes long it breezes through at a fair pace. Walk through any town centre in the UK and you are guaranteed to get awful Oasis and Rolling Stones interpretations, buskers grim faced playing these less out of enjoyment and more out of necessityto draw a crowd/money. Mantar have no such qualms and cover tunes they genuinely love, and it shows in the impassioned playing contained herein.
Scribed by: Reza Mills