Hailing from Innsmouth....I mean Denmark is the power/prog band Mantorica. These guys have a different sound then what is the norm in the metal scene nowadays, but then again don't most of the wacky bands I track down? Anyways, their CD "Darkness with Tales to tell.." kind of baffled me at first cause I didn't know if they were Thrashy Keyboardy (ala Children of Bodom) or Proggy (like Hollow) or Power Metal (Iced Earthy but faster!). It was one of those CD's that had too much going on, for me to "Get it" on the first couple listens. Hell I regretting the 15 bucks I blew on it the first couple days, but somehow the CD kept finding it's way into my Cd player. Even when I was thinking I didn't like it certain riffs and choruses would wander through my mind (what is left of it!) Soon I started understanding what the hell I was Listening too. What at first was alien too me soon became a part of me. Plus all the HP LoveCraft worship on the CD didn't hurt either! Hell, I still pick up new stuff off the cd nowadays. I guess any CD that grows on you and grows with you is a rare breed. As I stared mesmerized by the CD's strange artwork I decided to see what made these guys tick. Lucky Vocalist Lars Larsen showed pity on my feeble questions and answered them.
Prof.ManiC: How long has the band been around? How did you end up with the name Manticora? Is the “M” in your logo supposed to be a mask? What other albums do you have besides “Darkness with Tales to Tell”?
Lars Larsen: The band started out in ’96, after Kristian and I split up with our former band called Fear Itself. We played under that name for 6 months, but since the music had changed so drastically with Mads on the drums, we decided to come up with a new name for the band. We tried a lot of names, but found out after a couple of weeks that the names we had chosen, were all being used by other bands. Then, one day I was looking in a book with fable creatures, and found the name of Manticore. We had to choose between that one and Morannon, and we chose Manticore. It was later changed into Manticora as an Australian band had already used the first one. The M in the logo is not a mask. It was the guy who did our last cover, who came up with the design, and since we liked it a lot, we decided to make it our future logo.
We have released a mini CD with the title “Dead End Solution” in ’97 (IM Productions), and our debut album “Roots Of Eternity” in ’99 (Black Lotus Records).
Prof.ManiC: Why did you guys decide to go with the Lovecraft vibe on “Darkness with Tales to Tell”?
Lars Larsen: It’s only some of the songs that are inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Kristian, Mads and I (who are the ones writing the lyrics) are very much into the novels by this great author. We play role-playing games as often as time let us, and always with Lovecraft as the inspiration. We also used a lot of the inspiration for the 1. album. I’d say that “Roots Of Eternity” is even more inspired by Lovecraft, than “Darkness…”.
Prof.ManiC: With Lovecraft inspired feel and lyrics why the happy sounding progressive approach to the music sometimes?
Lars Larsen: Because we can’t stay in this dark and gloomy universe all he time, even though we’d like to. It also has something to do with the incorporation of Jeppe’s keyboard parts. He didn’t write anything on “Roots..”, whereas he had a lot to say on “Darkness…”. Since we’re also writing about dictatorship, pollution, and movies, we tend to be a little more progressive than on the debut album.
Prof.ManiC: How big of an influence is Lovecraft on you and the other members of the band?
What are your favorite stories?
Lars Larsen: Lovecraft is a HUGE inspirational source, and I definitely believe that we will one day do an album based upon “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward”, but nothing is sure yet. But it is only the three of us that have read anything by the author. The rest of the guys aren’t
that much into books. My personal favorite story is “The Shadow Of Innsmouth”, but I don’t know about Kristian or Mads. I think Mads really likes “In The Mountains Of Madness”.
Prof.ManiC: Your vocals are kind of unique in my book, you do a lot with your voice but all the changes are very subtle. You don’t seem to try to draw attention away from the music by using different “voices”. Is this planned or just your singing style or just the way it was recorded?
Lars Larsen: I believe it is just my singing style. I believe that people should see the music as a whole, and not as individual performances. It’s always “Hey, listen to that guy – he can really sing”, and then people forget about the rest of the music. It is important to Manticora that we present ourselves as a unit, and not 6 individuals, trying to top each other. I have my strength in the ability to put choir voices on my own first voice, and I pretty much stick to that. Another fact is, that I’m not born without balls, as most power metal vocalists out there today. The majority of them sound like they are singing in a boy’s choir, and it’s just a thing I’m not able to do (and wouldn’t like to be doing).
Prof.ManiC: What is the deal with the songs “Felice: Saga of the Exiles Part 3” and “The Nightfall War: Saga of the Exiles part 4”? Are they a continuation of a concept from a past album? If so what is the story behind them? How do the first two parts compare musically to the ones on Darkness?
Lars Larsen: They are the continuation from our debut album, where the first 2 songs are called “Nowhere Land” and “The Flood”. They are based upon 4 books written by the American author Julian May. The books are called “The Saga Of The Exiles”. We have sent the CD’s to the author, and even though she is in her 70’ies, she wrote a handwritten letter back to us, where she expressed that she was very proud about us being inspired by her writings….which again made us very proud!! The story is MUCH to complicated to try to tell in an interview. May I suggest that our fans read the books and make their own opinion about it? That would also be cool for us, to know, if we have done a proper job. The 2 songs on “Darkness…” are definitely more symphonic, but overall they all fit very much together. The aggressiveness is the same, as are the energy in the songs.
Prof.ManiC: Who’s idea was all the insane faces hidden on the CD cover? The bands or the artists? How many are actually on there?
Lars Larsen: It is totally the cover artwork guy (Chris Kallias), who had free hands to do anything he liked to do (with constructive criticism from our side of course). I don’t really know how many faces are hidden there. You’d have to talk to the artist about that. I can put you in contact with him if you’re interested? The important thing about the cover is to make people see it in the store, and I think that Chris succeeded in making it a picture that jumps into the eye immediately.
Prof.ManiC: What is the word on the next album? Have you guys begun working on it yet? (If so any info on title or songs would be great!) When is it expected to be out?
Are you guys still on Scarlet?
Lars Larsen: We will enter the studio on March 29th, to record the next full-length album, with the title “Hyperion”. It is a concept album based upon the science fiction novel of the same name by American author Dan Simmons. It is a fan-fucking-tastic novel, and we are doing this as a tribute to the author. The album will hold 13 songs, but I’m unfortunately not able to give you the details of the track listing, as the songs are not yet registered at the local copyright company. The music is a little more thrashy, than the previous albums due to the fact that the whole album has been written without keyboards. The key parts have later been incorporated into the music. The album has a release date of early October 2002. It will be released on Scarlet records as the previous one.
Prof.ManiC: How do you guys actually come up with you songs? Who comes up with most of the music and do you write all the lyrics? How do you pick a concept for the music?
Lars Larsen: The new album has been entirely written for the lyrics, which is totally different than we’re used to doing. Normally, we do the music first, and then come up with some lyrics to put on top of the songs, but on this one, we wrote all the lyrics first and have worked that way around in stead. It has been a longer process than usual, but it has also been a good learning experience for us, as we are able to do both kind of sessions in the future. Normally, Kristian and I are the ones to come up with most of the music, and that’s the way it has been on this new one as well. But the whole band is in on the arranging of the songs. Our songs are born in the rehearsal room – very often on instinct and coincidence. The concept is mostly for us about darkness, shadows and all the feelings that go with that. The new disc also has a darkened feeling to it, but as we’re doing this concept cover thing, it might seem a little brighter than our usual depressive mode, hahaha.
Prof.ManiC: Are you and the band members ever part of any other bands or projects past or present?
Lars Larsen: We tend not to get involved in a lot of other projects, but some of us have some fun bands that we play in (I used to sing in the Danish version of Iron maiden jam, where our bass player also played), and Mads, Kasper and our brand new guitarist Martin have this fun band with a guy who sings out of tune on purpose (it’s very fun). We have all played in a zillion other bands before Manticora, but they are all unknown to the metal public, and I don’t think there’s any reason to mention them here
Prof.ManiC: What other writers, singers, movies and bands are a big influence on you and the band?
Lars Larsen: The already mentioned: Dan Simmons, Lovecraft, Julian May – but also Erwin Neuttsky Wulff, Stephen King and Tolkien have a great place in our hearts. Bands/singers/composers: the list is WAY too extensive, but to write just a few: Blind Guardian, Helloween, Nevermore, Savatage, Forbidden, Slayer, Flotsam & Jetsam, Gamma Ray, Iced Earth, Radiohead, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi. As long as we find the energy in the music, we think it’s cool. We are listening to ALL kinds of music, such as Madonna, Ricky Martin and others. But we only like the music that we find relevant, and that is the music with energy in it. Music, where you can hear that someone has bled to create it.
When it comes to movies, we are very diverse in style inside the walls of Manticora. We all like “The Lord Of The Rings” of course, but also movies like “In The Mouth Of Madness” and “Event Horizon” are cool. Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, Stalingrad and other titles as such are fantastic movies.
Prof.ManiC: If you could be any Lovecraft character whom would you pick and why?
Lars Larsen: I wouldn’t like for myself to be in his universe, as I think it is SO disgusting – and that’s also therefore it inspires me and the other guys so much. Maybe I’d choose to be H.P. himself, while writing these horror diaries!!!! (have you considered where he got his ideas from….in the 20’ies and 30’ies!!!!).
Prof.ManiC: What is the metal scene like in Denmark? You guys are the first ones that I can think of from there, are there any other good metal bands from there?
Lars Larsen:

The metal scene in Denmark sucks the weener of a dead man. Last month, when Iced Earth played in Copenhagen, there were 354 people to the concert!!!!! This, in a city of 1,2 million people. The band scene is good. We have bands, such as King Diamond, Wuthering Heigths, Beyond Twilight, Mercyful Fate, Artillery, Invocator, Pretty Maids and DAD. So, we just need the audience to show up to the concerts. The problem is that Danish television are refusing to do any kind of metal show on TV or radio, which have caused that there are only 3 places left in all of Copenhagen, where you can buy Heavy metal CD’s!!!!!! Bad Shit.
Prof.ManiC: What is Denmark like? Is it mountainous or mostly forest? What are the seasons like over there? Does the physical aspect of your homeland play any part in influencing your music?
Lars Larsen: Denmark is flat and boring. A lot of cornfields and forests. The highest point is 172 meters above sea level. The seasons are like this: Winter – rainy and boring. Spring – rainy and boring. Summer – cool season as all the girls are dropping their clothes. We have approx. 25 degrees Celsius in the summer – but also a lot of wind. Fall – depressingly rainy, windy, shitty and dark. I wish I could stay in another country during this period, as I always seem to get depressed, because of the lack of sunshine! And yes, you can hear it on our music. This dark and gloomy feeling wouldn’t be there, if we we’re living in Southern Europe, I tell ya. When you walk around in darkness all day, and the nose is running, and you’re freezing your ass off, then the fist thing that comes to mind is NOT love and flowers…hehehe.
Prof.ManiC: When it comes to Horror what other metal bands do you think are on the right track in portraying the essence of horror in their music or lyrics?
Lars Larsen:

King Diamond. The master of horror music! I really don’t know a lot about the death/black scene, but I vet there are some pretty interesting horror interpreters there. I guess that “Horrorshow” by Iced Earth was pretty cool in its own way. But it really isn’t scaring in any way. King Diamond is scary!
Prof.ManiC: Any Fina comments?
Lars Larsen:

The darkness definitely has some interesting tales to tell…Look out for our new album in October. May the Shrike be with you.


Lars
Manticora