Just after listening for a couple of seconds to Elements you probably think/guess that Manticore must be a Swedish band; and yes they are... Manticore hails from Uppsala and since their debut album Time To Fly, released in 1994, Elements is just their third full length studio album.
And what an excellent album this is, featuring six brand new tracks, which are all deeply rooted in the retro symphonic rock field with obvious overall influences from bands like Camel, Genesis, Marillion, Jadis, Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues and Steve Hackett.
Elements opens with the wonderful instrumental The Wood, featuring a nice Hammond organ intro, followed by a lovely, melodic guitar solo, while the bass sound is really Chris Squire-ish indeed; hello Rickenbacker bass guitar! This one, together with the epic title track, is my favourite of this album. Elements, the song, clocking in just over ten minutes, features melodic guitar and keyboard passages, while the multi-harmony vocals are also outstanding and this formidable song reminds me of Yes and The Flower Kings. New Horizon changes a lot between soft and harder passages, great synthesizer melodies and subtle guitar passages. Open Up Your Eyes starts with church organ sounds, making this intro sound rather classical, while the outstanding guitar solo of Ulf Holmberg completes this excellent track; which also features an almost catchy Beatles-like chorus! The second instrumental track, called Nordic Shadows, is rather short - 3:50 - and this one has a lot of atmosphere, mainly due to the keyboards and the melodic guitar melodies that really sound like Steve Hackett here; lovely indeed!
Manticore's third album Elements sounds excellent and is indeed a must for fans of old school symphonic prog rock.
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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