Reviewed – 2021
Released – 2018, Vicisolum
Rating – 4.5/5
Reviewer – JP
I like bands that have extra drive and ambition in their creative endeavours. Any Metal bands can write, record and release and album but it takes a little more effort and creativity to go beyond. Manticora is one of those bands. In 2018 and 2020 Manticora released a pair of concept albums; TO KILL TO LIVE TO KILL and TO LIVE TO KILL TO LIVE. When these albums first came out I was a bit perplexed by the slightly confusing titles and in all honesty did not fully comprehend the story. I enjoyed the albums immensely but did not fully embrace the concept… until I read the book.
Founding member and vocalist Lars F. Larsen wrote a book called TO KILL TO LIVE TO KILL and it is fictional tale that ties into the double concept albums and fleshes out the story. That is what I was referring to earlier when I said I like bands that put more effort into it. This month I’m going to review all three in an examination of this ambitious and exciting phase of the bands career. Please feel free to read all three reviews in this feature.
Manticora is no stranger to concept albums and their ever-creative and fertile minds have developed this sonic story told across two parts. Part I is called TO KILL TO LIVE TO KILL for reasons that are revealed later, especially if you read the book tie-in.
This album was a bit of a comeback for the Danish Power Metal band. It had been eight years since he band had released SAFE on Nightmare Records, a short, straightforward record following the monumental pair of concept albums THE BLACK CIRCUS Parts I and II. Now the band is on the ViciSolum label and have gone back to their strength with another long, complex pair of concept albums.
In the interim eight years there were some pretty big line-up changes. Founding member and drummer Mads Volf was no longer in the fold. He was replaced by a swede, Lawrence Dinamarca. (Loch Vostak/Carnal Forge). Long-time members bassist Kapser and guitarist Martin were also both out. That is a pretty big shift when three long-term members of a quintet are gone. They were replaced by a pair of relatively unknown guys; Stefan Johansson on guitar and Sebastian Andersen on bass.
The CD itself is a very good-looking presentation. It comes with a 12-page, full colour booklet with an illustration for almost all the songs. I really like when bands put in that extra effort instead of just printing the words.
Musically speaking, like the vast majority of Manticora’s music, the album is superb. This is world class Power Metal. It is not your frilly neo-classical Italian style nor your anthemic, pounding German style this is heavy, fast and dark with many shades of grey in between. The 12-track album runs well over an hour and is laced with three instrumentals as well. TO KILL TO LIVE TO KILL has all the hallmarks of a good concept album, strong pacing, quiet, slow moments and heavy fast moments. The individual performances are top-notch hand I really enjoy the busy playing of new drummer Dinamarco. I’m reminded of the heavier end of Power Metal…the darker Power stuff like Persuader, Morgana LaFey and Tad Morose.
TO KILL TO LIVE TO KILL is as good as anything the band has done in their long and prolific career.
1. Piano Concerto 1: B flat minor…
2. Echoes of a Silent Scream
3. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Towering over You
4. Katana – Awakening the Lunacy
5. The Farmer’s Tale Pt. 1 – The Aftermath of Indifference
6. The Devil in Lisbon
8. Humiliation Supreme
9. Nothing Lasts Forever
10. Katana – Opium
11. Through the Eyes of the Killer – Revival of the Muse That Is Violence
12. The Farmer’s Tale Pt. 2 – Annihilation at the Graves
Lars F. Larsen-Vocals
Stefan Johansson-Guitar, Vocals