Barren King – Manntra (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Ahead of a full-album next month, tantalisingly titled Monster Mind Consuming, Barren King offers a wonderful taste of the musical and mystical world that Manntra calls home. Blending sea-shanty sonics with searing metal licks, industrial grind with folk grandeur, traditional sounds with otherworldly, gothic vibes, Barren King is a fantastic flight of fancy.

It is the story of a king in exile, destined to sail the seas in search of a cure for the curse laid upon him and living off his wits to survive. Half fantasy, half an allusion to seafaring mythology such as the story of The Flying Dutchman, as well as feeling like the soundtrack to the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Barren King sails neatly between worlds, both real and imagined, sonic and otherwise.

It revels in a sense of the epic and celebrates high-drama, taking water-front, bar room brawling, folk music to its logical conclusion, winding traditional instruments around the song and then underlining it with raucous rock riffs and metal moves.

This is the second time this week that such nautical folk metal and symphonic shanties have come my way and anyone who is a fan of Barren King will enjoy Storm Seeker too. I see both bands as opposing musical crews, plying the sea lanes and praying on weaker vessels to find plunder and musical inspiration for their songs. But if ever they teamed up they could take on the world. It looks very much like The Lords of The Isles have returned!

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