Power metal doesn’t get much more epic than this. Bowing deeply at the altar of BLIND GUARDIAN, MANTICORA holds nothing back here. This Swedish band has been around for a while, but their exposure in America has been almost non-existent except for a single performance at the ProgPower Festival. This is the second album of a grand concept and the follow up to the logically titled To Kill To Live To Kill.

When you open your album with a 14-minute-plus, over the top power/thrash opus, you lay all your cards on the table right away. They sustain the intensity remarkably well on ‘Katana-The Moths And The Dragonflies’, and the drumming and speed picking here matches any pure thrash band around, but their heart is definitely in melodic power metal. Singer Lars Larsen is an obvious disciple of BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kursch and pretty much duplicates his style, although MANTICORA doesn’t favor as much vocal multi-tracking as does Kursch’s outfit. The second track is a brief and quite pretty Asian-influenced cut called ‘To Nanjing’, which demonstrates their range right away.

The album is quite monolithic, and a lot to take. I broke it up instead of listening straight through. The band favor a heavier and faster style than most symphonic power metal bands but never forsake melody. The track ‘Goodbye, Tina’ is not really a ballad, but has an appealing QUEENSRYCHE Operation: Mindcrime feel to it. In contrast, ‘Slaughtered In The Desert Room’ and ‘Katana-Beheaded’ bring the aggression.

The album’s story is based on a novel written by Larsen and seems to be some kind of sci-fi horror involving Asian and Russian locations. Like everything else about MANTICORA, it is massive and epic. While there were times when my patience was stretched listening to this, I found this album to be a pretty impressive work of extreme power metal.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

To Live To Kill To Live
VicSolum Records
4 / 6