The Descent

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Just as news was breaking that acclaimed Norwegian Christian prog metal group Extol would be going on indefinite hiatus beginning in 2007, three of its members -- vocalist/guitarist Tor Magne Glidje, guitarist Ole Halvard Sveen, and bassist John Robert Mjåland -- were already busy announcing their new band, Mantric. And, as the first fruit of their labors, 2010's The Descent album eventually proved their intention was pretty much to pick up exactly where Extol had let off. Of course, when that sonic continuity involves chasing as indefinable and complex a mix of styles as did Extol, this just means that Mantric's music is, predictably, astonishingly unpredictable. For starters, Mantric aggressively blend thrash, death, and progressive metal, alternative rock and hardcore, and clean (think Thom Yorke but not as whiney), screamed, and croaked vocals into a dizzying array of moods, vibes, and emotions, ever propelled by a schizophrenic stamina for change and the urgency of intentionally scattershot percussion. In short: unpredictable. And oftentimes brilliant, too, as evidenced by the serpentine, vaguely Arabian melodies threading their way through "Spear of Heaven" and its eventual industrial decay, or by the alternately vicious metallic pounding and agile gymnastics of "Exorcism -- In a Treacherous Kiss," and on and on. Some observers may argue that this is all a tad chaotic in the end, and they wouldn't be incorrect, just less accepting of Mantric's ultimate mission to break new ground, whatever the cost. For this reason, and to paraphrase a famous book title, The Descent may not make as many friends as a safer album would have in its place, but will certainly influence a lot more people by taking this many risks.

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