Review Summary: Even though the album doesn’t break any new grounds, it’s a step back in the right direction after their latest concept albums, The Black Circus: pt. 1 & 2.
Three years since the release of The Black Circus: Part 2, Denmark’s Manticora have returned with their 7th full-length album, Safe. Manticora have made a name for themselves with their intense, focused and well-written albums, combining power, thrash, speed and progressive metal into one neatly wrapped package, while managing to separate themselves from all the other power metal bands out there. They succeed in creating a sound that’s dark and moody, yet engaging and, you guessed it, epic.
If you’re familiar with their earlier work, then Safe won’t come as too big of a surprise when you listen to it. Now in no way is that a bad thing; they are sticking with their formula that has worked on past releases and Safe is no different. The album is fast, full of dark intensity and each track pulls you deeper into their grand aura of sound. These guys are masters at what they do, and I for one see no reason for them to try and break that mold. If anything has changed from past releases, it would be there departure from being as aggressive as they used to be, most notably on their 2002 album, Hyperion. But despite not being as aggressive, they’ve matured and express more artistry in their song structure, delving more into a progressive style.
Safe is seven tracks of pure power/progressive metal that any fan of theirs will no doubt enjoy. From the great opening track “In the Abyss of Desperation” to the 14 minute epic finale, “Safe”, fans will feel right at home when they listen to this album. There are a few standout tracks on Safe, one in particular, “A Lake That Drained”, which reminds me a lot of “Help Me Like No One Can” from their album 8 Deadly Sins, with it’s speed, intensity and catchy chorus, it conveys such an emotional feeling that I can’t help but sing along when I’m listening to it.
The production is amazing, every instrument can be heard clearly. The guitars are heard throughout and the bass/drum dynamics alone work wonders for this album. Lars’ vocals are amazing this time around, gone are the thematics from their last two albums, now they’re more darker, similar to how he sounded on 8 Deadly Sins. Honestly though, if you aren’t a fan of theirs now, I don’t see this album changing your mind anytime soon, but if you appreciate quality power metal, you may find yourself enjoying this album.