When White Mantis released their first album in 2019, they looked back on four years of intense work on songs which, by the end of the year, would rank among the cream of the crop not only in German thrash but on an international scale. Actually, there are fewer “Teutonic” elements in the mix than a distinctly North American flavour to Sacrifice Your Future, reminding alternately of straight-ahead Canadians like Exciter or Razor and the refined edge of Californians such as Testament or – especially in the vocal department – Forbidden.
“Everything was recorded in my own studio according to a relatively clear vision I had”, recalls singer and guitarist Matthias Pletz, who had managed to steer his ship clear of the genre’s worst stereotypes on three demos since 2012 before writing the full-length. “My plan was to make it sound organic but lush, suiting the in-your-face type of music we play.”
One can only agree with this statement, although tracks like ‘There’s No Law On The Post-Apocalyptic Highway’ counter the direct approach of several shorter smashers – ‘Ordinary Loser’ arguably being the “hit” of the whole bunch – with considerable sophistication and technical prowess. “There is no virtuosity for its on sake in White Mantis”, the quartet’s prime mover clarifies. “The songs as such take centre stage and have to be interesting. Some well-dosed complexity may help, but catchiness is key. Having said that, good simple tunes are usually the most difficult ones to write.”
In any case, this is not your usual lowest common denominator, high-tops and baseball caps fare but an unabashed metal record as urgent and serious as they can get – not least from a lyrical standpoint. “My inspiration comes from the sociopolitical fields, tackled either directly or in a metaphorical way through fictional stories. I don’t want to be pigeonholed; there is an apocalyptic undertone, but also a sense of spirituality and tribalism. Listeners may figure out the rest for themselves.”
Taking ‘The Catcher in the Grey’ as an example, “the title indeed alludes to J. D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye although there’s no direct reference to the novel, the topic being demagogy.” And just like certain contemporary rabble-rousers on the political stage, the Bavarians’ debut roused the pickier parts of the scene who look for the proverbial “thrash with style.” At last now, it comes out in due form, meaning good old vinyl after its initial distribution on CD and thus with added warmth on every sonic level.
This also includes the – lo and behold – subtle keyboard flourishes heard at several occasions. Regarding, these the main composer announces: “Songwriting for our second album has already begun, and I’d say you can expect even less conventional ideas than retro synths in the new songs. Not that we compulsively feel we have to experiment, which is not something typical for thrash anyway, but I don’t like getting bored. There will definitely be more atmospheric parts of that kind and some unusual singing as well …”