MANTRA share many parallels with Nineties grunge bands and not just in the obvious reinvention of their sound. On debut EP I Want, the band explore the continued rejection of consumer culture, in a time where consumerism has spiralled out of control.
Hook-ridden title track, ‘I Want’, crashes in with its heavy groove of a riff and cacophonous drums. The song builds up to a satisfying breakdown, where the drums explode and guitars chime in for the solo – its driving pace, screeching to a halt leaving us for dust.
‘Destroy You’ starts off with a beautiful Led Zep Stairway-esque lick, before the acoustic melody kicks in, the drums begin and the song crescendos, jerking in and out. The space between the notes creating the sound as much as the notes. Breakbeats abound as Simon Stark sings “you’re never good enough” in a sneer – “I’m gonna destroy you” he taunts as math rock timings and grunge riffs collide with razor edged guitars.
This band can write a decent hook or two and ‘Stroke’ is full of them. Pop sensibility and layered vocals with unexpected melodic twists remind me of Foo Fighters if they had the edge of an underground band.
‘Power Struggle’ focuses on austerity and the “right-wing cuts to public services”. “I felt an obligation to say something about how easy it is to lose the basics if you’re not paying attention” explains frontman Simon Stark, while EP closer, ‘Hypochondria’, continues with those quiet/loud dynamics that I Want is full of.
Along side veteran grunge producer, Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, The Pixies, Killing Joke), Mantra have delivered a solid debut, announcing themselves as ones to watch in 2017.
I Want EP is out January 6th via Dine Alone Records.