Review: “Heart Set Stone” by Mantic Ritual

Back in January Pittsburgh Thrash overlords Mantic Ritual announced their return with a 7″ vinyl via new label home M-Theory Audio, the beginning of a new chapter for an outfit who were originally called Meltdown in 2005. They changed their name to for a full length titled “Executioner” which dropped in 2009 via Nuclear Blast having build a reputation as touring machine with shows around the American Northwest demonstrating boundless Thrash enthusiasm, energy and musicianship while sharing stages during the genre revival with the likes of Warbringer, Fueled By Fire and Merciless Death before dissolving in 2010. This new release also brings a line up change with drummer Carlos Cruz joining the axis of evil that is vocalist and guitarist Dan Wetmore, guitarist Jeff Potts and bassist Ben Mottsman…

While this new EP features the pair of tracks which appear on the aforementioned 7″ vinyl, the remainder are all new with the band stating that the covers are all cuts which they’d played live when they started out and incidentally, they also claim to have a new full length album written in its entirety waiting in the wings. “Life As Usual” beings the record in fine form, fusing Hardcore Punk moments to the bands Thrash skeleton with the bass sounding like a guitar in the mix and a real sense of fun in the musicianship. The drums gallop, the interplay between the guitars is lively and the cut sounds like it belongs on a cassette traded by 80’s Thrash lovers, polished just enough to make it sound like it was recorded on an eight track. In our original review of the 7″ vinyl we described “Crusader” as continuing where the band left of with “Kill ’em All” era Metallica style vocals, Jazzy bass inspirations, blistering solos and a classic 80s Thrash nostalgia feel that just makes you want to crack a smile and headbang. Nothing has changed in our opinion of that since then except to say the cut is one that grows on you over time and the influence of Motorhead probably has something to do with the bass sound. The EP title track is the longest cut of the three originals the band have provided us with and it’s another fine example of the band at their best, the soloing is sheer class. If this trio of new cuts from Mantic Ritual are anything to go by then the album is going to be an absolute barnstormer.

The three covers are side b of the cassette and as Mayhem did with “Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando” last summer what Mantic Ritual have done is record a trio of covers that sounds like the band having fun in their basement torcher chamber hell in the early days of their inception, secretly hoping to p*** off their parents and neighbours should they so happen to be listening. “Race Against Time” is you snot nosed Hardcore Punk cut recorded with the same guitar tone and drum sound used for the originals while being a faithful rendition that doesn’t stray too far from the left hand path. Their impressive take on “Black Funeral” offers more with a slick extended solo at the end a demonstration of skill and showmanship and could have been extended beyond that for another verse or chorus should they have so desired. The grand finale that is “Cross Me Fool” is an undisputed classic and perhaps a bigger risk to take on but Mantic Ritual don’t but a foot wrong as they drive down the darkness in style. As Oliver Twist said, “Please, sir, I want some more” [7/10]

Track Listing

1. Life As Usual
2. Crusader
3. Heart Set Stone
4. Race Against Time (G.B.H.)
5. Black Funeral (Mercyful Fate)
6. Cross Me Fool (Razor)

Heart Set Stone” by Mantic Ritual is out via M-Theory Audio on 2nd September 2022 and is available over at bandcamp.

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