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I remember trying desperately to get into Manticora at a younger age, purchasing 8 Deadly Sins (which, interestingly enough, is the band’s most melodic and accessible release) before so many other Euro-metal releases that I was better-prepared for. Over time (and several fits of nothing but darker, heavier power metal), I finally came around to the band’s catalog, mostly thanks to the band’s third release, Hyperion. I was rather late in discovering Roots Of Eternity, the debut release of an exceptional power metal band that would go on to become one of my favorites. In perfect hindsight, I would have done well to access Manticora’s material in chronological order, as their growth into the snarling behemoth that the band is today has been gradual and noticeable.
Here on the debut, one who is only familiar with the more modern incarnation of the band may find themselves a bit surprised and/or disappointed. More than anywhere else, the compositions here are more reminiscent of Manticora’s more standard compatriots in the metal scene. Straight out of the gate, however, Manticora forges a signature sound by blending the aggression and guitar-centered focus of German power metal with the high speed gallop of Scandinavia, while blending in some chromatic and rhythmic elements more typical of extreme metal.
Here on the debut, Lars Larsen’s voice is perhaps at its weakest. However, he’s never been a terribly dynamic singer. If you’re a Manticora fan, you’ve acquired the taste and adjusted to Lars’ voice, and if you haven’t, it is highly unlikely that your opinion will change upon listening to future albums. Between the combination of his initials and his disctinctive singing tone, Lars has earned the nickname “Old Leather Lungs” amongst metal fans (and some critics). I can’t be sure how Lars himself feels about the nickname, but I find it a good descriptor of how his voice feels and sounds.
This album is a bit of a trick musically, since the darker, proggier, and more ambitious tracks are less developed and have not reached the heights of Hyperion and Safe. Simultaneously, no concept is developed as much as those seen on the back-to-back Black Circus albums, and so I feel that Roots Of Eternity is a bit unique in that its simpler songs are its finest. One shining example of this is the softly sequestering “Beyond The Walls Of Sleep”, which offers the only real relief from the moderately fast chugging of most of the rest of the album. Lars’ vocals are more relaxed on this song, and Schultz and Larsen’s (Kristian, this time) guitar play is soft, emotional, and plaintive. Rare’s the time that I really enjoy a soft “metal” tune, and rarer still (or perhaps “unprecendented” is the term) when that song is my favorite track to come back to on an album time and time again. That’s exactly what “Walls Of Sleep” does, however.
Other highlights include the simplistic but very catchy “Nowhere Land”, as well as the more melodic opener “When Forever Ends”. The closing title track is the second longest that the band has ever composed, and despite doing the ten-plus-minute track much better the second time around (11 years later on Safe), it is still one of the most solid and continuously interesting tracks on the album.
While less organized and not as expertly executed, Roots Of Eternity is still a very solid debut album, and one that proves to be a reasonably challenging listen even for long time fans of the band. In terms of the band’s career, this and Darkness With Tales To Tell can be looked at as an artistic brainstorming session spanning three years, after which the band emerged triumphantly with a string of superb dark power metal releases. This is not my first recommendation for baptizing oneself in Manticora, but it is definitely a must-have release for fans of the band’s brand of complex power metal.
Original review written for Black Wind Metal
I don't know what it is but this band does everything right. When I initially heard this band there was something that always made me not like them but as I refined my music taste over more varied listening I found myself coming back to this band more and more until eventually I listened to the title track of this album which is when I fell in love forever. Maybe it is there unconventional approach to the genre but something initially feels off for a lot of people when they hear this band and the same happened to me. I can guarantee though, after you listen to this band enough you begin to see the beauty of their work.
One unconventional approach that is immediately noticeable is the vocals. Unlike every other power metal band I've heard the vocalist tends to stay away from a high pitch and go with a beautiful mid-range. There is a purpose to this other than being unique too. It serves this band's atmospheric needs very well. The atmosphere of this album is rather dark but not in the brooding angst teenager way. It's dark in the "there's always a beautiful blue sky to be found after a powerful storm" sort of way. It's hard to explain but when you hear it, you'll get what I'm talking about. The vocalist also uses layering in his vocals to give them a little melodic edge that I enjoy and should be observed.
Guitar-wise the rhythm in this album is unbelievably good. The riffs are always unique and like nothing I've ever heard. Notably on the song "The Flood" the opening riff is one of those instantly catchy and amazing riffs that get stuck in your head. This band is smart too. They know not to beat a good riff into the ground and do well to progress in a way that leaves you wanting more of the same but know that not getting it makes the album much better. Solo-wise there are a lot more memorable solos on this album than on their other works. Usually I found that the instrumental breaks in their songs were memorable for the riffs only while on this album I find both equally amazing. How this band comes up with such fantastic rhythm is beyond me... it's just good. What's more is this band also knows exactly when and where to put breaks in their music to maximize the progression without getting boring at all. The ballad "Beyond the Walls of Sleep" is pretty and placed right where a ballad should be placed and- unlike most other power metal bands- is not overly long and boring *gasp!* I know that's hard to believe, but it's true, a ballad can be interesting and short! That's one of my dreams... to bash into the heads of power metal bands that 8 minute ballads are not enjoyable and are generally just boring. This goes for the breaks in the songs as well, they are placed right where contrast is most effective and not drawn out or made so predictable that you can tell immediately when the band is going out of the B section in there ABA style generic song.
Now for the drums. The drummer is extremely good. At first I got the feeling that he just went straight double bass and just played as fast as possible in a predictable way. Well... that was on the album "Hyperion" where the songs were based on a sci-fi novel. He proved immediately on the other albums that his style on that album perfectly mimicked the mechanical universe that book was based on. Suffice to say he plays extremely intelligently and extremely well. Able to conform his style to whatever the band wants- the true virtue of a drummer. Not just playing the same rhythm with added double bass and a few cymbal hits once in a while. He is part of a whole and not just background rhythm to help out. Keyboards are also used in this album though extremely sparingly. The most notable keyboard part being the straight piano part for a little bit in the title track.
As for the songs in this album they are all great. From the odd intro track to one of my favorite songs of all time, the title track "Roots of Eternity". Yes, the riffs are all varied and different from track to track with no "I've heard this before" or "wait, this is a different song?" Never before have I heard such a hybrid of power, thrash, and speed metal. But sure enough it's here. And this collision of styles are all evident on the title track which is 11 minutes and 46 seconds of perfection. From the instrumental intro to the fast soloing to the acoustic break all the filled with beautiful and meaningful vocals and ending with one of the greatest guitar solos I've heard to finish off the album. It's all there and it all works without ever once making you want to stop listening.
I highly recommend this album. Extremely highly. My grammar is suffering because I love this album so much there just aren't enough l y adverbs that can express my love. Please. Do yourself a favor and find this album. And please don't be discouraged if it sounds off or weird at first. I can guarantee that after a few listens you'll be able to experience this masterpiece to its fullest.
Ah Manticora, Denmark’s finest band that are criminally underrated. In 1999 the band released their sophomore album which definitely is their crowning achievement in my opinion. So where to start? Well first of all the best thing about this band are the riffs, they are very fast and thrashy with a great sense of melody. Flemming Schultz and Kristian Larsen have really done a very fine job with the twin guitars creating lots of great leads and headbanging friendly thrashy rhythms. Apart from the riffs the strongest feature found here is the fact that it’s a very solid album that doesn’t suffer from any fillers but instead consists of one strong song after another. The songwriting itself may not be that spectacular and the arrangements may be somewhat simple, even if the band does show that they are capable of writing longer songs which they demonstrate on the ending title track which is as a wonderfully crafted 11 minute song.
Keyboards are used sparsely but once added they give the music another dimension creating a dark atmosphere that is something pretty atypical for the power metal genre. Same thing goes for the occasional acoustic guitars which are also very well used and are a nice contrast to the heavy riffs making it a well balanced album.
The production found here is outstanding with a crystal clear sound with lots of power giving the album a very huge sound, especially the drums sound very powerful and the guitar tone is also excellent. Even the bass if fairly audible making it almost impossible to believe that this was recorded with a small budget. Every cheesy power metal band who have forgotten the importance of strong production should do themselves a favor and listen to this one before going into the studio again.
Vocalist Lars Larsen is somewhat bizarre as he pretty much uses the same mid-ranged style throughout the entire album and very rarely tries to hit higher tones, which is a shame since he certainly proves that he has the capability of doing this. Yet his vocals are very strong without being especially aggressive and has he has a very unique style, which adds to the originality that this band has. Though calling this album extremely original is a slight amplification since the twin guitar work is at times reminiscent of early Iced Earth and possible even Blind Guardian and Metallica. And of course as with any power metal band the Iron Maiden influences are hiding somewhere in the background. But thanks to the vocals, keyboards, drums and the overall atmosphere this album possesses this makes for an album that doesn’t really sound like anything else I’ve heard.
All in all I’d say that this is a very fine crafted power metal album, and I’ve certainly not heard anything better from this genre. Mandatory purchase for any power metal fan and due to its thrashy riffs it should be appreciated by most thrash and heavy metal fans as well.