Croatians Manntra celebrate nine years in existence in 2021, with Monster Mind Consuming being their fifth full-length release. The band continues to widen their appeal with this new record (possibly at the expense of some longer-term fans), but their core sound – a sort of pop-folk metal that wouldn’t be out of place in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest – remains largely intact.

The band deliver an incredibly slick sound – all rough edges are neatly sanded down and then burnished to a blinding gleam – which adds an almost industrial feel to some of the heavier material; however melodically MMC remains rooted in the folk sphere, with a pleasing reliance on an ancient Croatian refrain that recurs throughout early tracks Heathens, Ori Ori, 4th Slave and Barren King, giving a nice cohesion to the first half of the album.

Barren King is actually more of a Pirate metal track, boosted by pounding drums and spirited, lusty backing vocals; Vocalist Marko M. Sekul gives his most convincing vocal on this track, where he adds a darker edge to his repertoire. The band then shakes things up quite noticeably on the catchy semi-title track MMC, adding a pulsing throb to the heart of the track that’ll have NDH fans writhing in pleasure. It’s not folk metal, not by a long way, but you have to admit it’s pretty good stuff all the same. Who said a sore thumb couldn’t be fun?

I Want To Eat You isn’t quite so successful, riding in on a hackneyed Marilyn Manson riff that  doesn’t really bare repeated listens, but next track In Your Eyes gets things back onto an even keel, mixing the folk and the Rammsteinesque, if not quite in equal measure then at least well enough to impact the listener with some success.

Let’s Invite The Storm and Lipa, the latter delivered in the band’s native tongue, round things out nicely, returning to the band’s core values with some success.

Folk metal is a pretty densely populated area of the metal world these days, and it’s hard to honestly make a case for Manntra as being anything out of the ordinary within their chosen field. That said, Monster Mind Consuming is a perfectly acceptable way to dispose of thirty five minutes of your time, and I wouldn’t want to dissuade anybody from giving this a go.

Monster Mind Consuming Releases on March 26th.