In Vain
Mantra


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
January 17th, 2010 | 313 replies | 22,552 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist


Mantra is an album which makes you think. As the successor to 2007's The Latter Rain, the bar was set fairly high, especially when the band, relatively speaking, is still a fresh face in the scene. Amongst the numerous other progressive death metal giants out there, you would expect Norwegian band In Vain to be thrown around, not able to stand its own amongst a sea of much bigger fish. Instead, In Vain have remained lingering in the background, churning out music which is both well-written and painstakingly performed. So, with Mantra, it makes you wonder why In Vain really hasn't received the spotlight at all. Pity, really, because already Mantra comes into 2010 swinging, ready to stand against what the rest of the year has to offer.

The constant riff changing which occurs throughout each song helps to melt away the eight or nine minute tracks lengths with relative ease, while the slew of catchy melodies continue to pile up in the back of your head. The chugging rhythm of “Mannefall’” progresses to a rolling, up-tempo atmosphere which complements the array of numerous clean and harsh vocal tones. The bluesy atmosphere of the brief acoustic track “Ain't No Lovin'” provides stark contrast to the upbeat, anthem-like tendencies of “Dark Prophets, Black Hearts”, or even the bizarre Native American inspirations of “Wayakin (The Guardian Spirit Of The Nez Perce)”. The songwriting is so amazingly diverse that each track pulls influences from several different sources. The throaty barks and chanting of the chorus to “Dark Prophets, Black Hearts” follow the lofty cleans of “On The Banks Of The Mississippi”. The amount of variety to the vocals, which harbor at least six different styles, adds huge amounts of variance and also vital replay value to the album.

The pace of the album can run from all-out death metal to a grinding crawl backed by acoustic guitar, bass, and piano. Often each song contains wonderful acoustic interludes as well as wailing guitars solos set alongside memorable choruses which will undoubtedly remain stuck in your head long after the album has ended. However, despite the welcome and prevalent diversity which the album offers, it goes as no surprise that some of these influences draw serious questions as to what exactly the band was thinking. The most obvious of these questionable sounds are the hugely out-of-place Native American themes which linger in the throw-away track “Wayakin”. The fact that the band is Norwegian makes the choice to go with such themes a mystery, but if, in practice, the band would have implemented them skillfully, then maybe such an odd decision could be written off as minor. However, the song is so blatantly terrible it acts as a scar which literally drives Mantra to a standstill which it barely escapes from.

Also, the album suffers from slight moments of repetition in which the creativity of some of the other tracks is driven away in favor of a safer, more secure sound. While not inherently bad, songs like “Sombre Fall, Burdened Winter” and some moments in “Circle Of Agony” pale in comparison to the tracks during the first half of the album. The flat-out epic moments of Mantra more than make up for this though, with songs often building and building to a brilliant crescendo which really drives home just how brilliant the songwriting is on the album, and how much care was taken to avoid dull moments (which is very nearly achieved). For the most part, Mantra is a more focused display than The Latter Rain; the songs manage to pack in numerous influences while still feeling like a single track, something which The Latter Rain failed to accomplish.

Putting aside the relatively minor slip-ups, as well as an exhausting running time and a somewhat dragging second-half, Mantra really shows what kind of band In Vain is. The painstaking songwriting, the impressive display of technicality, the daunting diversity, and the clean production all add up to a hugely successful album which is appealing to fans of a large number of genres. From guttural growls to raspy screams to blissful clean singing, all surrounded by spot-on instrumentation from the guitars, a solid rhythm section laid out by the drums and a noticeable low-end contribution from the bass, each individual component can be attributed to numerous memorable moments which will bring you back for many repeated listens. The good heavily outweighs the bad on Mantra, opening the door for a bright future for In Vain in the years to come.



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user ratings (129)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
LargeTuna (4.5)
The subtleties of Mantra make it what it is: a near-masterpiece of a progressive metal album....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think I've ever written as many drafts as I did with this review.

Album rules.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



8327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

wonderful review Crysis. I loved The Latter Rain; will get this right now (sadly I didn't even know this is out already)

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's out in Norway, and will be released elsewhere on the 18th (which may be today or tomorrow depending on where you live).

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Here it is! I agree with the review, except that I think Sombre Fall is one of the best on the album. It reminds me of a post-rock/screamo song and yet doesn't feel out of place on the album. Of course, I agree that Wayakin is TERRIBLE. Overall, ace review!

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



8327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

This should actually be featured imo. It's a new release and the review is spectacular

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It reminds me of a post-rock/screamo song and yet doesn't feel out of place on the album.

Agreed, but to me it really doesn't come off as anything which makes me go "Whoa, this is awesome"

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

For me the screamo vocals are some of the best on the album. The acoustic interlude is one of the most beautiful as well, and the riff after is killer. Idk, I love it. Still, we can agree the album rules face.

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Also, I think 2 and 3 need to be switched on the track listing.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good catch, just edited that. Don't know who added this to the database but I guess they messed up. They also had "Dark Prophets, Black Hearts" and "Circle Of Agony" in the wrong place.

jrowa001
January 17th 2010



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cant wait to listen to this one!

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hmmmm....on In Vain's myspace it does list Mannefall before Ain't No Lovin'. It's in there latest blog post.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

MA and their myspace have two different things. I'll go with what the band says.

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

MA?

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Metal Archives

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If you listen to the songs though, Ain't No Lovin' transitions right into Mannefall.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 17th 2010



5790 Comments


Nice review man. I doubt I will check this out as The Latter Rain wasn't my thing, but I might eventually.

BigTuna
January 17th 2010



5155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's different than The Latter Rain. I would say if you didn't like The Latter Rain you could love this.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



8327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

If you listen to the songs though, Ain't No Lovin' transitions right into Mannefall.
listening to the album atm, and this is true

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010



16310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I doubt I will check this out as The Latter Rain wasn't my thing, but I might eventually.


I gave The Latter Rain a 3, just saying.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 17th 2010



5790 Comments


Really? Now that sparks my interest. Someone said in the In Mourning thread that they were very similar, I think. In that case, I should probably give this a go.



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