Saturday, 27 August 2011

In Vain - Mantra [2010]

Did you ever wonder what would real American metal sound like? By ‘real’ I mean metal relying on blues, country or Indian music? I might be wrong, but seems like Norwegians from In Vain found a way to help us imagine it. It seems to me, that this might be one of the most underestimated bands in the world. 7 years, two amazing records and very few concerts and fans... Well, why don’t you try to appreciate their latest masterpiece - Mantra - one of the best metal releases of 2010?

Opening Captivating Solitude begins with peaceful, deep low riff that soon gets surrounded by a powerful mass of drums, intense guitars, cellos and above all – horrifying scream.  But, but. In Vain is famous for its five vocalists, so soon we also get wonderful deep singing and fat, fast solo broken by repeating clean parts again.

Mannefall opens with a bit stonin’ guitar and a mixture of growls and screams. Atmosphere gets pretty thick as they speak in Norwegian and backing vocals add a really devilish black feeling. Ok, so stonin’ black metal you say and wonder where that’s gonna lead. Oh, did we hear some change? the guitars get slightly more delicate and another vocalist mourns with a bit Indian spirit. The drummer shows off a little bit, but hey, if we’re into Wild West, shouldn’t we be proud?

Ain’t No Lovin’ with its acoustic guitar and bluesy sang lyrics:
Now I'm sitting here with
My guitar in my hand
Ain't no lovin'
No more lovin'

leaves no doubt for inspiration.

It painlessly passes to On The Banks Of The Mississippi and after short stoning intro we are welcomed by a choir telling us sad story of an old man. You could always forget it’s a metal band if not the heavy drum in the background and screamed&growled ‘chorus’. Again there is some cello plus a couple of violins hiding behind drum&guitars. Wonderful guitar solo (very simple, but lovingly anxious) and a bit Gojira-like drums strengthening it, bursts out in the concluding, beautiful and optimistic verse.

Dark Prophets, Black Hearts first show us some stunning guitar trips but soon gets into fact verses-slower chorus game. The chorus has also an interesting form of a hymn sang by them all, which gives more power to lyrics, calling us
To liberate
This world from
Greed and sickness

The following part of the song with slow drum and a number of delicate acoustic and tuned down guitars give an impression that the call might have been heard and the world is a better place. Around 7th minute the guitar gets so heavenly, that Eric Clapton shall indeed give his tears to heaven. But the outro still warns – you must care for your peace.

Wayakin (The Guardian Spirit of the Nez Perce) – shall I even say anything more? An old Indian telling a story, mourning cry and a riding melody accompanied by warriors’ screams. A group’s prayer to Wayakin with a metal background, occasional screams and instrumental parts that make me lose control. If Indians sang that powerful songs fighting Europeans, their opponents wouldn’t dare to attack. But again it slows down. Old style guitar solo changing to cello solo and old man’s explanation:
We look to the bear, the owl and the eagle as our brothers
To teach us how to live
They talk to us, we listen
The bear tells us of our strength
The owl of our wisdom
And the eagle of our freedom
It is time for us to remember

Last cries and we’re in the Circle of Agony. It’s a mad, a bit pessimistic tune complaining over the state of mankind with lots of growls, screams and yells and broken, thick riffs. Yet around 6th minute cello and acoustic guitar come to voice and give another heavenly melody.

Sombre Fall, Burdened Winter is probably my favourite. Simple piano interludes with jazzy guitar and intense sang parts. After the longest dreamy calm part cut guitar introduces us to saxophone solo – a passage to the choir-screamed a bit hardcore (but broken by melodic, quite clean guitar) part with one of the most awesome lyrics ever. A peaceful guitar-piano outro leaves us with 2minuted silent reflection.
And at last finishing hidden (or not) Wayphearing Stranger calms you down with tearing, a bit country farewell. Oh God, that deep, low voice and 70’s like female vocals! Even metalheads shouldn’t object!

The lucky possessors of deluxe version shall also find on their albums bonus In Remembrance with mad Gojira-like guitars-drums combo, sludgy riffs and trancing, ‘boiling water’ chorus – as I would describe it. Alarm- psychedelic guitar solo? Mad growls? Saxophone Lynch-atmosphered interlude? Acoustic passage like Opeth? Or maybe ticking drums? Screaming in silence? You wouldn’t guess, they have it all! Well, this song is a pure fun for every metalhead;) Let’s bang our heads!


  1. "It seems to me, that this might be one of the most underestimated bands in the world." ... sad but true ...

    Good review, greetings from Chile :).

  2. Thank you:) luckily, with next album they will rise more attention..

  3. I love your blog. It's like a poetry.