In 2001, popular and talented Philippine hard rock/metal band Wolfgang released Black Mantra. The album is a double set, and includes a studio album of new material and a live album comprising cover versions of such classic rock songs as the Rolling Stones' "Bitch" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." Wolfgang's previous album, 2000's wonderful Acoustica 9/30/2000, consisted of live acoustic versions of previously released Wolfgang songs. On Black Mantra, Wolfgang returns to hard rock, and, as before, the music is built upon a sturdy foundation of blistering guitar riffs played by Manuel Legarda, topped by the strong, penetrating vocals of Basti Artadi. In Wolfgang's music, the imaginative guitar riffs and solos are as important as the vocals. Some might argue that the guitar is even more important. As always, the bass and drums are an integral part of the precise group interplay. Once again, Wolfgang has made an outstanding album. The first track, "Judas Noose," opens slowly, but soon unleashed is a ferocious barrage of hardcore riffs, paving the way for Basti Artadi's pungent vocals. On Black Mantra, the band mines similar territory heard on previous albums, but guitarist Manuel Legarda keeps things fresh with his imaginative riffs. "Undertow" features provocative guitar work, both hard-edged and exquisite, that draws listeners into the song. "Shoulders of Cain" opens on a slow, dreamy ambience and contains a strong melodic hook in the chorus. The powerful "Bleed One Way" features memorable interplay between the bass and guitar, while "Revolution" is built on fast, riveting guitar work. Black Mantra pushes borders while providing enjoyment, and is a noteworthy entry in Wolfgang's catalog. The live album of American and British classic rock songs (and one Philippine song) is also a delight.
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AllMusic Review by David Gonzales