In Vain - _Mantra_
(Indie Recordings, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (
Are you as tired as I am of all these made up prefixes that pop up everywhere online to specifically describe and categorize every other band that's trying to make it in this world? Well, I spared myself the horror and just avoided any critique of In Vain prior to listening, and I'm glad to say that it was the better decision to make. You see, a band like In Vain could impact every person differently. Versatility is the nucleus of this band, and the ability to combine all styles of metal and some other non-metallic influences is what holds the cell together. However, if I were to come up with a genre-defining prefix, I would deem this record 'composite metal'.This Norwegian bunch has put together an album that will definitely fulfill all the insatiable appetites for weird metal combinations. The nine tracks comprising _Mantra_ are rides of sheer exploration and variety. In the beginning, the black metal shrieks and prog-rock keyboard solo of "Captivating Solitude" sport a beautiful contrast that doesn't even begin to prepare you for what's coming ahead. Chugging death metal riffage and deeply growled vocals highlight "Mannefall", then that metallic adrenaline running through you is instantly diluted by a very American-sounding country song called "Ain't No Lovin'".With the creative juices flowing and the listener's attention falling into the band's captivity, "Dark Prophets, Black Hearts" explodes with extreme metallic sensation that will get the fists in the air with its intense chorus, relentless drumming and shredded guitar melodies. The oddest element in this rather peculiar combination of musical elements is the vocal technique used on "Wayakin (The Guardian Spirit of the Nez Perce)"; the tribal sounding and most engrossing track for my money. The vocals incorporated here are sung with a yodeling technique that is delivered with such drama, marvelously fitting with the heavily distorted guitar chords behind it. This highly agile and expansive _Mantra_ should be on your 'best of 2010' list if you are a metal fan with a shred of openness to a few things non-metallic. It's perfectly natural not to have a clear opinion about it after the first listen because, like most great records, _Mantra_ takes time to grow on you. Its rebellious approach towards die casting bands in particular genres is quite refreshing. In times when impressive bands from the past are taking some rather unpleasant detour with their 'experimentation', one should relish this meticulously structured _Mantra_.
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