Best of SXSW 2015: Mantar
SXSW is supposed to be about music discovery, and while indeed it sometimes still is, it seems that all too often the showcases you’re most stoked to see feature bands that tour all the friggin’ time. That could be a result of the modern music industry climate in which bands need to constantly stay on the road in order to make a living as much it could be the most frequently named culprit, the mass corporatization of SXSW, which, while it’s certainly a thing, seemed considerably tramped down this year, as has been noted elsewhere. Still, it’s rare these days that a hyped band no one’s seen live before shows up at SXSW with something to prove and an audience looking to prove them wrong.
German noise/doom duo Mantar were greeted by SXSW revelers with some combination of mystery and buzz, the latter a product of the former. Little was known about this band, and it was their first time in the U.S. Who was this group of Teutonic giants that Metal Injection deemed worthy of a spot on their official showcase?
A fucking powerhouse, that’s who. Mantar played like they meant it, as if they understood the gravity and potential of the situation, and the audience took note, transfixed in rapture. In one word: Mantar are INTENSE. That the band is a duo, and the drummer and guitarist set up on opposite sides of the stage facing one another, makes it all the more so. It’s as if they’re playing for each other and for themselves only, and everyone in the audience just happens to be there. No one else matters yet everyone does, as the energy in the entire room was palpable.
Mantar’s riveting performance makes the band this year’s winner of the Honorary Kvelertak SXSW “Zeroes to Heroes” Award; everyone was abuzz with their name all week after their lone show. You’ll be hearing a crapload about Mantar in the coming year, I guarantee it. MetalSucks contributor Emperor Rhombus was a prophet when he named Death by Burning as his third favorite metal album of 2014.
Death by Burning is getting a vinyl reissue via Brutal Panda in mid-May; you can pre-order that here. The band will be on tour with Conan and Samothrace that same month. Dates are below, courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan.
5/6 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
5/7 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
5/8 Austin, TX @ The Lost Well
5/11 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater %
5/14 Oakland, CA @ Oakland Opera House %
5/15 Santa Ana, CA @ Psycho California – Observatory
5/16 Tempe, AZ @ 51 West %
5/18 Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory %
5/21 Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Deathfest
5/22 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
5/23 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie %
% – w/ Samothrace