It has been an outstanding year for metal and the path of brutality continues as Manticora comes roaring back to heights James Cameron would be proud of with part two of their horror epoch. The Danish metal group recently released To Live to Kill to Live, which is an ouroboros of part one To Kill to Live to Kill.
Manticora began the bricolage of nightmares over the period of a long hiatus and just like Frank Herbert’s Dune, Cameron’s Avatar, or the unfortunate Chinese Democracy, a gigantic concept takes incubation and development. The incubation ended up being worth the wait because TLTKTL is a monstrosity of virtuosity, turn-on-a-dime tempo changes and remarkably tasteful interludes like “To Nanjing” and “Ten Thousand Cold Nights” which are part of the samurai motif in the Katana storyline.
The genius behind the album lies in the complexly intertwined story arc, graphic depictions of creatures and evil warriors rending flesh, and the jaw-dropping intensity in the teeth grinding selections like “The Farmer’s Tale Pt. 3” and “Slaughter in the Desert Room”. It is an absolute gift to fuse story and metal. It is easy to become pretentious and lose the music in the story, or vice versa. However, three storylines are triple-helixed and wound into an impressive display of musicianship with “Katana”, “Through the Eyes of the Killer”, and “The Farmer’s Tale”.
Manticora takes an unorthodox route in song placement as well. “Katana-The Moths and the Dragonflies/Katana-Mud” kicks the album off with an astounding fourteen and a half minutes. It took twelve minutes to type the title. It is hard hitting and aggressive while catering to prog fans and speed fans alike.
The first half of To Live to Kill to Live is top-heavy but barely loses steam. No track stands out as weak, save for the instrumental “Stalin Strikes” but the anachronistic song is still a powerhouse. There was just more to be desired. Bookended nicely by another longer track “Katana-Beheaded”, the record is a stunning juggernaut of method and madness. The album even contains a booklet with the lyrics and narrative, and the album art is sinister and terrifying. Out August 28th, Manticora proves that patience is not only a virtue, but also a lucidly extravagant feast of your worst fears. It is without doubt worth the listen.