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Mantra - 'Dreamland' Album Review


1. I Want

2. Stroke

3. Cola Brat

4. Run Away

5. New Friends

6. Annexe

7. Russian Roulette

8. Skinned Alive

9. Individual

10. End Of Time

11. Retrograde

Dreamland is the debut album from Mantra – a Hard Rock band from London. But what do they sound like? Well, if you put parts of Nirvana, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age and the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World film soundtrack into a blender, this might be the result.

The first track “I Want”, starts you off strongly, giving you a firm sense of what you are going to be listening to throughout the album, even if the individual track is not so memorable. Unfortunately, the next couple of songs didn’t really strike me as all that memorable either, and in my opinion, the album doesn’t get really good until Track 6 – 'Annexe'.

From that point, the album really picks up steam, showing more variety and a wide array of great songs. My top three songs from the album all appear in this back half – 'Annexe' and 'Individual' are great, and then the absolute pinnacle of this album for me is 'Skinned Alive' – a fast-paced, loud, riff-driven number with a catchy-as-hell chorus. I’m not saying that the first five tracks are particularly bad, but in the context of the whole album, it does feel as if there might have been a slightly more diverse running order that would have kept the listener enthralled throughout.

Mantra definitely aimed for a full sound on this album, which really helps to make it an audio feast. I do enjoy good production on an album, and 'Dreamland' ticks most of those boxes for me. However, I do feel that the vocals particularly are slightly over-produced, polishing off one too many raw edges, so the loud and more passionate vocals don’t quite have the raw energy and passion that I suspect they were intended to have. I imagine that the band come across as more dynamic in a live setting, putting more emotion into the songs – but that’s missing slightly here.

This isn’t me saying that the album is not worth listening to, however – it’s the strength of songs that make an album, and there are some very good songs on this album. For a debut album, it is incredibly impressive – if you had told me this was their third or fourth album, I’d have happily believed you as the songs are so well-crafted that they seem like a band on top of their game.

While I do have issues, they are really minor quibbles, and it can’t be denied that Mantra have definitely crafted a damn fine album, which is absolutely worth your time. It may not be perfect (very few albums are), but with the album lasting around the 40 minute mark, it’s definitely one to take a chance on this year. You won’t be disappointed, and 'Dreamland' may end up playing regularly in your house - it’s certainly going to be played a fair few times at mine!

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Review - Michael Braunton

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