Danish veterans Manticora have made a fair name for themselves as purveyors of thoughtful, punchy power/prog metal over their quarter of a century of existence; They even put out a novel to accompany their last two concept albums, but with Mycelium they go back to simply delivering blistering, melodic heavy metal – and very well they do it, too…

Throughout this superbly put-together record the band never stray far away from their power metal roots; The title track would make Blind Guardian proud, for example, but the band, despite relishing the slight ‘back to basics’ nature of what’s going on, never let things get stale. They don’t ever rest on their laurels, throwing a few stylistic twists and turns into every song to keep things interesting, and songs like Necropolitans, Demonday and standout effort Beast of the Fall really benefit from this. The latter especially, which sounds like Hansi Kürsch getting involved in some studio shenanigans with Megadeth, is next level modern metal that punches out of the speakers in spectacular fashion.

After a welcome break in the shape of all-too-brief piano-led instrumental Equinox, another highlight is the more progressive but no less heavy Mementopolis, which sees the band throwing in a few of their American influences and features a spellbinding vocal performance from Lars F. Larsen and some superb (uncredited) drumming.

Mycelium is another concept album, albeit a slightly scaled-down one, so the band haven’t completely thrown out the baby with the bath water here, but it does definitely feel more direct and hard hitting, with the guitars of Kristian Larsen and Stefan Johansson doing some real damage throughout. If you enjoy power or prog metal played with a thrash intensity, then there’s plenty here that’s going to get you more than a little hot under the collar.

Mycelium releases on January 26th.