X-Mantra are a four-piece thrash metal band from Kathmandu, Nepal, who formed in 2000. In 2012, they released Pralaya 2012, a disc containing eight songs. X-Mantra is very fortunate to have signed with British label King Slam Records. The signing and subsequent distribution will hopefully greatly increase their international reach and exposure (although in this case, well-placed YouTube videos and the Encyclopedia Metallum were a faster, better discovery route).
The first thing that’s striking about this exotic album is that it’s not sung in English (or, if it is, it’s unintelligible but has a wonderful, exotic accent). None of the non-numeric song titles are native English words. That seemingly minor difference alone is enough to pique the interest of a jaded “heard it all” type listener. The recording quality is very good: clear, crisp, and free from excess artifacts. Reminiscent of Beneath The Remains era Sepultura, or Death Angel‘s first record, the music is fairly straight-forward thrash metal. It possesses a retro feel in places, and a progressive, forward-leaning feel in others.
The vocalist’s “unintelligible to English ears” thrash delivery doesn’t diminish the disc one bit. The gruff, abrasive near-scream style that he alternates, sounds much better or more practiced then trying to sing near-clean or on pitch. The band have also remembered to include some clean and well-performed, ever-beloved guitar solos. The disc starts with a brief instrumental, and closes with a ballad, an interesting sequence very uncommonly seen. These guys don’t just play as fast as they can – they have a maturity or restraint about their flourish that shows they’ve been at this music game a while. Most of the disc is spent in a blistering pace for a thrash/speed metal band, but it does slightly change direction and slow down several times, for a change of mood and pace.
The album opens auspiciously with “Kranti”, an ominous, slow-building introduction. What sounds like a muted vocal sample lies underneath a decidedly Eastern flavored lick. Then, listeners are treated to some fancy guitar effect overlay, which has a nice, atmospheric presence. “2012” is a stand-out track here, being mid-tempo, thrashy, and catchy right away. The song grooves: the band puts in a great ‘break down’ right after the first verse and “rally speech” sounding vocal sample. The second half of the tune is just as good as the first: it’s very catchy and fun, very intense, forward-moving, “grab and don’t let go” strong.
Criticism: The clean ‘power metal’ type singing isn’t what we’d call perfectly on pitch, and “Pralaya” starts with a lot of potential but unfortunately fizzles. The mixing or sound balance could be better – vocals are mixed a little forward on this disc. Other then those things… for a release from an isolated faraway land, this is fantastic.
How can you not love a disc that originated in one of the most beautiful and as-yet fairly undeveloped places in the world? They’ve got a national “bird of nine colors” and Mount Everest – that cannot be topped! Listeners will definitely broaden their musical listening horizon with Pralaya 2012. It further proves that music really is a universal language. If you like your metal music mid-tempo to fast, and served as hot flashy thrash, you’re going to love this disc.
Track Listing with Run times:
Kranti — 01:23
Manav Astitva — 04:14
Kaurav — 04:29
Badala — 04:21
2012 — 03:34
Chaya — 03:52
Pralaya — 04:09
Bartaman — 04:50
Band Members: Rojesh Shrestha, Sandeep Tuladhar, Ritesh Shrestha, Bikram Shrestha, Nabin Maharjan