Mantra - Roots

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Lucretia Records
Catalog Number: LU20010-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:37:00

This album might have been more aptly called Get Your Led Out, since the Roots referred to in the title is surely Led Zeppelin (and also the blues that formed the basis of Led Zep's music). And while Mantra's vocalist Jacopo Meille has got the Robert Plant tone and swagger down -- though he occasionally sounds like Chris Cornell, too -- Mantra won't make you forget Zep any time soon. Mantra aren't quite the musicians Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones are/were, but this Italian quartet sure do try hard. And just as you are about to dismiss it as overly Zep influenced, the band come up with a few textured moments, where the band set aside the stomping blues and swagger for something a little more layered. It's these that are the best moments on the album.

While you won't find an homage to "Stairway To Heaven" or "Kashmir" here, you will find that the Zep classic "Ramble On" going through your head on more than occasion. And like Zep, you'll hear a Middle Eastern musical textures here and there, especially the sitar that opens the sparse, acoustic, and woozy "The Architectures Of The Sky." The harmonies are loose, and not in a good way - one wishes for a stronger performance... tighter. There are some tasty, dark bass lines in this piece, however, that contrast nicely to the lighter sound of the guitar and the snickering percussion. Sitar returns for the latter half of the album's closer, "Life And Devotion."

The album opens with some vocalizations that lead into a revving guitar that leads into a bit of screaming guitar, before the stomping blues number "Different Keys" kicks in proper, a piece that features the first of many guest performances on Hammond B3 by Max Rossi, who plays on a total of 7 tracks. The core of Mantra are Meille on vocals, Gianluca Galli on guitars, Senio Firmati on drums, and Andrea Castelli on bass. "Dirty River" is a down and dirty, grinding track that starts and with heavily bluesy slide-guitar, and for the solo, some Page sounding guitar riffery. "Garden Of Secrets" is another heavy, muscular, driving rocker, and "Homeless" will remind you more of Whitesnake than Zep? which is only a matter of degrees. Mainly here it is that this piece has more of a metal feel than hard rock. And while "Don't Call Me Jesus" has the Zep thing down pat, the AOR-like chorus brings to mind the likes of Bon Jovi, Cinderella, etc., at least stylistically. During the chorus, this track boogies quite well.

"Alma Mater" adds a string backing (courtesy Rossi) to what is an otherwise vocal and guitar duet and a rather nice track at that. It has an airy and open feeling? actually, it has a rather live feel. Once of the nicest tracks on the album. And interesting rolling drumming pattern introduces the middle-eastern like "Black Mother." And "Whales' Singing" is another nice piece, with watery guitar phrases from Galli (recalling Dream Theater's John Petrucci's styling on Images And Words.) Here, too, Galli plucks out a neat, if somewhat familiar, solo. A crisp bass line gives this piece a bit of an edge, softened only by the strings -- another highlight on this album. The lyrics for "The Forest" are mostly taken from a William Blake poem "The Blossom" (1789), and are played against a ? [well darn, seems I left a sentence unfinished, only now discovered. -SS 9/6/09]. The final of these mellower, more open pieces is "Life And Devotion."

Though essentially their debut, as their previously recorded full-length album has yet to be released, it is fairly strong. While none of the music will stay with you after the CD is over (though you might find Zep playing on your mind's stereo), it is, on the whole, enjoyable to listen to.

Different Keys / Dirty River / The Architectures Of The Sky / Garden Of Secrets / Ramblin' On My Mind / Alma Mater / Homeless / Don't Call Me Jesus / Black Mother / Whales' Singing / The Forest / World For Sale / Life And Devotion

Jacopo Meille - vocals
Gianluca Galli - guitars
Andrea Castelli - bass
Senio Firmati - drums

Roots (2001)

Genre: Rock

Origin IT

Added: November 30th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 541
Language: english


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