There’s nothing wrong with a little ambition in the world of Heavy Metal, a genre which often punishes artists that play it safe. Danish masters Manticora have displayed no shortage of ambition in their twenty year career, tackling such projects as a sonic retelling of Dan Simmons’ epic novel Hyperion with their album of the same name, and delivering a two volume concept album, with volumes released over a two-year period in 2006 and 2007 entitled The Black Circus. With To Kill To Live To Kill, their eighth release and their first in eight years, they intend to do the same. As if multi-volume concepts and re-imaginings of genius literary works wasn’t enough, singer Lars Larsen’s ambitions extend into additional artforms beyond music; To Kill To Live To Kill is based on a novel of the same name Larsen wrote and successfully kickstarted.
Ambition is one thing, but talent, execution and performance are another—many projects laden with ambition become so bloated with excess and overreach as to never attain their stated goals, and Larsen’s status as a multi-threat artist doesn’t guarantee that To Kill To Live To Kill is going to be any fun to listen to. But…it is. In a big way; epic in scope and with masterful production from producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat), the album features a variety of song structures including absolutely shredding instrumentals in “The Devil In Lisbon” and “Humiliation Supreme”. Manticora nails the first volume; one hopes that session drummer Lawrence Dinamarca splits time with his other projects and signs on for volume two; the barrage he unleashes on “Echoes OF A Silent Scream” and the subsequent tracks is a percussive glory.
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