In the beginning of '96 Danish underground-metalband Fear Itself (one selffinanced CD out) went through some major line-up changes, leaving only Lars F. Larsen (vocals & rhythm guitar) and Kristian Larsen (lead/rhythm guitars) to continue the band. With the addition of drum-wiz Mads Volf (ex-Human Factor/Rip'n'Tear) and later bass-player René Nielsen (ex- Scarecrows) the band decided to change the name into Manticore.
DEAD END SOLUTION
In the beginning of 1997 the band hooked up with a new vocalist, but just before entering the studio to record "Dead End Solution", he dropped out, due to other priorities. This left Lars F. Larsen with no other solution, than to take over the vocalist role again. With only a short period of time to practice, the final result suffered a bit from this. But Lars and the band were really focused on improving also the vocal-side of Manticore, and since 1997 Lars has been taking lessons in voice-control and singing.
... "The "Dead End Solution" mini CD was recorded at Elsound Studios in Copenhagen in only three days. Although it was recorded in such a short time, we think, the result really is brilliant" ... quote; Manticora.
The band received only positive response on the "Dead End Solution" album, and was even praised as "the brightest hope for the world future of power metal" in Greek magazine "Metal Invader", who also included the title-song on their compilation CD "Warzone VII". In 1998 Manticore was forced to change their name into Manticora, as a German recordlabel owned the rights to the old name.
ROOTS OF ETERNITY
In the summer of 1998 Manticora hooked up with Greek metal-label "Black Lotus Records", to whom they signed for two albums in October 1998. In August of 1998 an additional guitarist, Flemming Schultz, had been added to the lineup of Manticora, in order to give the band a much heavier sound.
In December '98 Manticora decided to bring forth the extra diminesion of a keyboard player in the band - thus giving the music a light symphonic touch. The keyboardist, Jeppe Eg, became a full time member of Manticora with the release "Roots Of Eternity".
The recordings for the first full-length took place in the Aabenraa Studios under professional guidance of producer Jacob Hansen during spring of '99. In July '99 the album "Roots Of Eternity" was finally released and immediately started selling big time in Southern Europe as well as receiving positive and acknowledging reviews from all fronts.
… "To us, "Roots…" stands out as one of the most competent debut albums of the last decade - with a producer like Jacob "Brillesvinet" Hansen, our sound on this, surprised even ourselves" … quote Manticora.
During the fall of '99 Manticora experienced a severe setback in the promotion of "Roots Of Eternity", as a planned European tour got canceled after a vicious attack on lead-vocalist Lars F.Larsen by a bunch of kids in the hometown of the band. Lars broke his jaw and was unable to sing for a couple of months. Luckily Lars recovered and soon returned in full shape, and together with the rest of the band worked really hard on writing the best possible songs for the next album.
FROM BLACK LOTUS TO SCARLET RECORDS
In the summer of 2000, Manticora parted ways with their former record label Black Lotus Records, although they actually had a two-album deal.
… "we didn't feel enough promotion for "Roots Of Eternity" took place - we didn't find that the label were supportive enough in getting the band on a lengthy tour - we didn't think the sales of "Roots Of Eternity" were nowhere near the amount we expected from this release." … quote, Manticora.
The new material of Manticora was demo'ed on 12 tracks and was shopped to selected labels around the World during Summer of 2000, with great responses from everywhere. In June 2000, Manticora's management went on a trip to Italy to meet up with Scarlet Records, who had come up with a nice offer on the new material.
And in the fall of 2000, this resulted in Manticora signing a worldwide recording deal with the Scarlet Records, and immediately went into the studio, to record "Darkness With Tales To Tell".
DARKNESS WITH TALES TO TELL
After 14 days under the guiding eyes of producer Jacob Hansen (Invocator, Manticora, Behind The Curtain, Wuthering Heights, Aurora, Hatesphere), who once again gave the band the perfect sound, the material was ready. The artwork has been taken care of by the brilliant Greek/Swizz artist Chris "Saiyan" Kallias.
"Darkness With Tales To Tell" is an exceptionally good heavy metal album - an album filled with great songs. Not only will part 3 & 4 of "... The Saga ..." (continued from "Roots Of Eternity") be present on the album, but also superb new songs like the melodic "Twilight Shadows" and the epic 12 minute song "Dragon's Mist" are potential hits from this release.
… "We believe that "Darkness…" should be the album that puts Manticora among the trend-setters, not the trend-followers. No journalist with respect for himself will be able to label us - that's how diverse these songs are" … quote Manticora.
The release of the album was April 30th 2001 worldwide (with the exception of Korea, where Sail Productions released it two weeks later with an added bonustrack).
Shortly after the recordings of "Darkness…" the band experienced a severe set-back, as long-time bass-player Rene Nielsen decided to quit Manticora. He simply decided that his skills weren't good enough for bringing the potential of the band to a higher level. Even though the band tried to convince Rene that this was not true, he was unstoppable in his decision, and thus the band had to look around for a new bassist.
Luckily bass-monster extraordinaire, Kasper Gram, who was already a close friend of the band and management (as he used to play in Wuthering Heights, also featured on Intromental), stepped in at the right time, and quickly learned all the Manticora material.
2001 was mainly spent on writing new material, and the process for doing so went well, until guitarist Flemming Schultz' input in the band started to decrease drastically. After some band meetings, it was eventually decided that Flemming had to be replaced by another guitarist.
The new member in the line-up is Martin Arendal, who's a longtime friend of the band. His playing skills are extremely good, (he's more of a Malmsteen/Friedman kind of player, than the Kirk Hammett style of Flemming), and he fits perfectly in with the rest of the guys.
In early 2002 the band entered the Aabenraa Studios once again, in order to record the new album "Hyperion", which is a concept disc based on Dan Simmons' fantasy epic novel of the same name. The fantastic cover artwork was created by Irish artist Niall Parkinson. The producer was once again Jacob Hansen, but this time the band decided to have Tommy Hansen at Jailhouse Studios (known for producing Helloween, Pretty Maids etc) mix and master the disc.
The outcome is fantastic. Epic, bombastic and more guitar-dominated than ever. "Hyperion" was released on October 1st 2002 by King Records in Japan, and on October 28th by Scarlet Records in the rest of the World.
For Manticora the music is about heavy metal, being young, living on the edge of danger, and of course about life itself. Playing a mixture between US Power Metal and the teutonic European metal sound is not always the most commercial thing, however Manticora has succeeded to build a name for themselves with their awesome ideas.
Manticora is a six-member band - a band where every person is allowed to bring forth his ideas. Where Lars, Kristian and Mads were the main-composers of Manticora's two first albums, all band members are now equal and all brings their ideas into the conglomeration of music that is Manticora!
In the music of Manticora you can find inspirations from such artists as Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Metallica, Jag Panzer, Helloween, Nevermore, Gamma Ray etc. This is Heavy Metal with capital letters … HEAVY METAL !!!
Reviews from journalists all over the World has had a hard time labeling the band, however all agree that Manticora is a unique band - a band with a great future ahead of them.
For Manticora the lyrical side of things are important as well - some might say that it is clichee to write about "darkness", "twilight", "eternity", "mist", "shadows" etc., but to Manticora it all comes down to one thing - setting the mood for some fascinating stories …
... yes, the darkness has some very interesting tales to tell ...