- Label: 'Solid State / Tooth and Nail'
- Genre: 'Rock'
- Release Date: '24th April 2020'
Mantric, I gather, is ‘an experimental progressive trio from Oslo, Norway comprised of three-fifths of underrated metal innovators Extol, vocalist/guitarist Ole Sveen, guitarist/vocalist Tor Glidje and bassist/vocalist John Mjåland. The three have been playing together for more than 20 years now, first in progressive black-metal group Lengsel, then in prog-metal innovators Extol, having contributed to the band’s classic and final album ‘The Blueprint Dives’, before disbanding in 2007.’
13 years on, it’s 2020, and the world is on lockdown: thank technology for the Internet! Really, without music, where would we be now?
The album’s expansive neoprog opener, ‘Polyanana’ is strongly reminiscent of early Oceansize, and transports me to another spell on lockdown – 2000, I was holed up in a flat in Glasgow with no money, no friends, and a dial-up connection that cost 1p per minute to download music illicitly via Napster and Soulseek. I’d leave songs downloading overnight only to find dropped connections meant songs that had taken 4 hours to half-download had to be started again.
‘False Negative’ is very much the sound of a time past, and it’s fair to say that ‘Efflouresce’ is its closest comparison, with its layered guitars and rolling rhythms. After a prog/metal start, ‘Queen Fatigue’ goes all-out Ministry. Bur for the most part, ‘False Negative’ is an album that evokes the spirit and sound of the early noughties.
There’s a lot going on, and ‘False Negative’ is an album brimming with energy, dynamic and emotional range. The six-and-a-half-minute slugger ‘Dawn’ is exemplary, with a rolling drum providing the spine to a multi-segmented track that transitions between soft shoegaze and riff-driven attacks.
Elsewhere, ‘The Towering Mountain’ goes full grunge/metal rage, landing somewhere again between Ministry and Nirvana’s ‘Beach’.
It all adds up to a wide-ranging, diverse, and rounded album, which gets my vote.