- Artikelnummer 37038
- Format: CD
- Genre: PROGRESSIVE
- Erscheinungsdatum: 03.03.2023
MANTICORE was originated in 1985 by Ulf Holmberg and his brother Goran with partnership of Kjell Jansson, Per Saavedra, Michael Loof and Par Lindh. Then there were several years of existing, with various changes in line-up along the way, before unveiling the debut CD 'Time To Fly' in 1994.
Curiously enough, after successful gigging for appreciative audiences around Sweden and Norway, Manticore disappeared from view... A nearby quarter-century hiatus ends when three co-founders (Ulf Holmberg, Goran Holmberg and Per Saavedra) reconvened to work together. There is always the worry that a follow-up could be something of an anti-climax so I'm happy to report that is not the case.
As effect of involving Jon Sundberg to the group's ranks, Manticore have come up with the second studio release 'Flight 19' (2018) featuring a rather peculiar assortment of songs - combination of their own stuff and covers, where every ingredient counts. Four years on, the band unveil the third CD 'Elements' destined to take us back again to the Glory days of the early 1970's. The deja vu feeling is present far and wide. While it's certainly a modern recording, you'd swear that much of influences came from legendary forefathers of the style. There is a blameless 'RETRO' feel around with mandatory hallmarks of classic symphonic-prog and the material contained within the set definitely ensures that goal. Methinks, major influences on the album come from the UK bands like Genesis, ELP, Greenslade, The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra (to name a few) that can be heard alongside echoes of early Kaipa.
The perfectly-styled guitar licks evoke Steve Hackett or even Roine Stolt. The use of cathedral organ, Mellotron, soaring synths could give you append clues. If that's not sufficient yet, a refined nod to Led Zeppelin on one song brings a dissimilar colour. Yep, these Swedes have found a cache of unique musical memories and give 6 distinctive compositions for us to hear in amaze.
Overall, the blend of instrumental pieces and vocal songs, and there is a good balance between the two types. As far as any parallels with newer bands are concerned, Dynamo Bliss (primarily, '21st Century Junk') and Moon Safari come to my mind too. But regardless of comparisons, Manticore successfully pulls it off without sounding overmuch derivative or trite. The band never employ the long format keeping their compositions rather compact to match inventiveness with the fine melodicism. The rich instrumentation lays out the canvas for beautiful vocal interplay between two singers. It is really difficult to pick exclusive moments because all of individual tracks on the offer are pretty darn good. Even so, definite mention deserves the auld composition 'Rain Is Falling' (written back in 1985, and now fully re-arranged).
Throughout the album, Ulf Holmberg is in prominent roles of guitarman and keyboardist. Whithal, essential importance of leader can hardly be considered an absolute monopoly, since there is a lot of room for other members to produce the marvellous sonic spectrum. Goran Holmberg takes on vocal duties, as well as providing bass throbs inspired by Chris Squire. Being another frontman, Jon Sundberg adds his lovely singing performance, he also plays organ for the closing number of CD. Putte Saavedra provides the elegant work on drums and percussion.
Despite the fact that Manticore have a base configuration, the special guest was brought onboard - Kjell Haraldsson (Hassy Froberg Musical Companion) who's drenching analogue and digital keyboards at instrumental 'The Wood'. Another mention goes to Jonas Dominique for his tasty string arrangement (violin, viola and cello) of track entitled 'Open Your Eyes'. When all of these musicians stand united and focus common signal, they create a genuine retro vibe.. Conclusion. This new Manticore album will probably haunt my CD player for a long time.