By: Nerhys Hall
Since their formation in 2016, London, England alt-rock trio Mantra has worked hard and accomplished a lot in three years. They have performed alongside bands like Jane’s Addiction and have traveled to festivals like SXSW and Reading and Leeds. Mantra released an EP in 2017 and last month finally released their debut LP, Dreamland.
This twelve track alt-rock album is a phenomenal debut full-length. Mantra pulls from various rock styles and influences to create twelve different sounding songs that still compliment each other and sound like a cohesive album.
Dreamland opens with a fuzzy, distorted track called “I Want”. The drums keep the song’s tempo moving along and rough-sounding male vocals add an extra gritty layer to the sound. “Stroke”, an energetic song with an urgent-sounding bass line immediately follows. Although a heavy track, it remains steady throughout and fades out into the third song, “Cola Brat”.
The third song is where the album really starts to get interesting. Losing much of the distortion from the first two tracks, “Cola Brat” takes on a much more relaxed and cleaner sound. Vocal harmonies add to the power-pop feeling. Following a similar vein, track four, “Run Away” doesn’t use a lot of distortion. However, the vocals are layered under the instruments, and the whole song has a push-pull quality to it. To make things even more interesting, the chorus sounds like it would fit in a punk anthem.
“New Friends”, track five, brings a much softer, slower tone to the album. A mournful-sounding guitar and ringing keys create new emotional depths. Songs seven, nine, and eleven also have slower tempos. The seventh song, “Russian Roulette”, has a much darker sound with a hypnotic, repetitive rhythm. Song number nine, “Too Little Too Late” is bluesy sounding with heavy distortion and a repeated riff throughout. “End Of Time”, the eleventh track has a push-pull quality similar to “Run Away”. During the verses, almost-operatic vocals float above simple drums and bass, but are layered underneath heavy instruments during the choruses.
Songs eight and ten, “Skinned Alive” and “Individual” respectively, bring back quicker tempos and aggressive sounds. “Skinned Alive” features the longest intro of all the songs on the album and a frantic guitar line. For “Individual”, it’s the drums that keeps the tempo moving and doesn’t let the heavy sound drag it down.
The album closes with “Retrograde”, a slower song that begins with a clean-sounding bluesy guitar. The track builds in intensity and eventually distortion is added. A heavy guitar solo turns into the clean-sounding guitar again and the song fades out.
Mantra’s debut full length is a fantastic collection of different alternative styles with a song for everyone and enjoyable from the first note until the very end.