It always amazes me when a band sets the bar higher with each album that they release. Eventually you think “okay, there’s no way this one can be better than the last one.” Mantric has 2 exceptional albums already and their last one “Sin” was outstanding. So when I saw that they were back again with “False Negative,” I was figuring that maybe this was going to be the step backwards. Not in the least!
“False Negative” is yet another massive LEAP by the Norwegian outfit. And I mean this one is one great song after the next. While the band always was able to write strange songs with some hooks, “False Negative” is the perfect balance of quirky stuff and just amazing song craftsmanship. It’s just relentless! The first three songs hit you (“Itching Soul” should be played on prog radio) and you’re thinking “ok how can this get any better?”
That’s when Mantric twists into a modern version of the Beach Boys whilst channeling Failure on the song “Norwegian Dastard.” It’s the best track that Mantric have done. Well okay there are other songs on “False Negative” that rival it. “Down” is a fuzzed out asskicker which still holds to Mantric’s odd style. “The Towering Mountain” is a mix of blasting punk metal and Motorpsycho on acid. It proves that Mantric isn’t about to stop trying different things.
Mantric were always good with twists and turns which keeps the listener alert. “Every Day Is Independence Day” is a classic Mantric song in that respect. Odd time signatures and unique arrangements. That’s all here. “Darling Demon” will definitely upset those people that don’t like harsh vocals, while “Starmonger” is the big epic that I’ve wanted from Mantric. Big sound, big riffs and powerful vocals. Reminds a little of Oceansize, a good thing!
It’s time to officially stop thinking of Mantric as an Extol offshoot. Mantric have evolved to be something way, way more than that and to be honest they’re more compelling than Extol has been in years. “False Negative” is the masterpiece that Mantric always had in them. I can only hope that people that love truly progressive music won’t miss out on this album.
2. Itching Soul
3. Queen Fatigue
4. Norwegian Dastard
5. Blame the Beggar
7. The Towering Mountain
8. Everyday Is Independence Day
9. Darling Demo
Label: Solid State/Tooth and Nail
Release Date: 24 April 2020