Mantar – “Grungetown Hooligans II” MCD (Brutal Panda)
Battle Helm Rating
With little sign of calming down their storm, the Bremen duo of Mantar have now decided to record this mini album paying tribute to some of the artists who influenced them into becoming one of the heaviest and most sonically destructive acts today! Going back to the early 90s when Riot Grrrl, MTV and ‘Alternative’ were cool words buzzing around a very uncool, post Cold War Germany, the duo of Hanno Klänhardt (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards) and Erinç Sakarya (Drums) were stoked by the DIY aggression and attitude of bands like Sonic Youth, The Jesus Lizard, and Mazzy Star, along with the more obvious punk and metal bands. Now, having toured all over the world and recorded 3 studio albums, a live record, and an EP, Mantar bring us “Grungetown Hooligans II”, which offers 8 short and sharp covers in their typical style of heavily down tuned guitars played through bass cabinets and pummelling drums. Of course, there’s little to substitute the Riot Grrrl vocals of Donita Sparks, Kat Bjelland and Selene Vigil, but Hanno thankfully doesn’t seek to do that, instead offering interpretations rather than covers of the original material that actually works a treat. Opening with L7’s ‘The Bomb’, the punk thrash guitar sound is brilliantly re-created with plenty of fire driven by Erinç’s energetic drums, while Hanno’s vocals take on a dry black screamo style, bringing a darker, more ominous tone to the track despite an abundance of guitar wailings and rock n roll breaks. On ‘Bruise Violet’ by Babes In Toyland, the original groove is brought into even more monster proportions through Hanno’s thick guitar sound and bass like strummings, and when combined with Erinç’s bruising, definitely shows Mantar’s worth as a power duo capable of more decimation than bands three times their number! Rocking in on Mudhoney’s ‘Who You Drivin’ Now’, the grunge groove is simply on a roll as Hanno blends in plenty of Sub Pop guitar melodies, while his vocals offer an interesting mix of guttural roars and more punk inspired singing during the bopping chorus. Closing with the fast, anarchic punk of 7 Year Bitch’s ‘Knot’, Erinç goes into overdrive while Hanno piles in the ballsy riffs to add even more to the raucous but catchy original groove, thickening up the mid section to compensate for the original’s prominent bass sound, while his dry black screamo does respect to Vigil’s punk singing. Talk about reliving their childhoods, but these two have definitely done so on “Grungetown Hooligans II” – and had an absolute ball doing it!