MĀRA - Self Destruct. Survive. Thrive. - (8.5/10)

Published on October 13, 2020


  1. Intro (Mila Mara)
  2. Leaking Guilt
  3. Beauty of Humanity (Feat. Bjorn Strid)
  4. Religionipulation
  5. Life Kills (Fear)
  6. Don't Look Back in Grief (Feat. Jeff Hughell)


Melodic Death / Thrash / Groove



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Self Destruct Survive Thrive is that rare thing. It is a sophomore release from an outfit who debuted extremely strongly that not only holds true to the promise of the prior material, it eclipses it. This EP is the sound of Māra further consolidating their excellent chemistry and maturing to even greater heights and abilities than their greatly enjoyable debut EP Therapy for an Empath suggested they would be capable of in 2018.


Two years away sharpening their skills as musicians has hugely benefited what was already a top drawer metal experience. Self Destruct sees the band develop in complexity and depth throughout, fine tuning their particular brand of death thrash mixed with melodic death. In all areas, the band have installed new parts, repaired any breakages and come back a sleeker, meaner and considerably more imposing machine.


Mara Band Photo


The most immediate place you will feel this distinct upgrade is in Māra Lisenko’s performance. The powerhouse vocalist has stepped up her already formidable game here in so many ways. Cleans are more anthemic, gutturals and rants more punishing and destructive, and her ability to flow between her multiple vocal approaches is a joy to behold. It was already a strength on the debut EP but here she positively radiates confidence and commands your attention with her chameleonic vocal flows.


Instrumentally, things are just as distinctly ‘Māra version 2.0’. The funky bass of prior release Therapy is more thoroughly followed throughout by guitars and drums, lending tracks like ‘Beauty of Humanity’ a swaggering sense of groove, melded with powerhouse melodic death riffage at the sharpest, most intense end of that genre. Māra’s vocal acrobatics are matched move for move by the swaying grooves and memorability of the immensely satisfying music backing them.


There is no real achilles heel to this EP. This is a short, sharply condensed release that has a compact and muscular style. It says everything it needs to emphatically and undeniably and waves goodbye as soon as its done. Its lack of posturing, unnecessary progressive aspects purely to follow trends, and distinct clarity of vision is refreshing. However while the record has enormous relistening value and a great deal of depth, building on an already thoughtful and considered kind of bludgeoning the band had worked on on their prior EP, this lack of the frills a lot of mainstream metallers now expect could turn some off.


Basically this is a distinctly focussed hammering of quality melodic death with thrash and funk metal elements fused to it’s chassis. The songwriting style pushes more towards it being a continuous flow rather than songs being considered as fully separate entities, with the band moving away from their more meat and potatoes songwriting approach of ‘shouted verse sung chorus middle eight get out’ on their earlier EP in 2018.


This is to be applauded. It does however mean that though the songs are more memorable, it lacks a centrepoint track like Therapy’s ‘Label Me Insane’. Though that song is anthemic and a calling card for the band, I feel like it’s been eclipsed here easily, but if you’re looking for the ‘hit single’ on here, it’s more a concentrated effort to make a whole ‘hit EP’.


These issues I really feel are very subjective. This EP is no less accessible than the prior one, but flows much better meaning that it feels more like 21 minutes of continuous enjoyable death-thrash funkiness. The overall consistent high quality of the record enables it to move beyond the debut for me, and I’d much rather have all the songs be of a solid excellence than have four great songs and one excellent one, which is what you get here.



The coherent addition of progressive and funk elements to the existing battery of melodic death-thrash rather than resorting to leaving two minutes just to show off is personally to be applauded. This whole EP has an undeniable forward energy that makes it feel like you’re holding onto it for dear life as it flies down a mountainside. I hope the band will continue to carry out such excellent, unpretentious and satisfying song composition in the future. Everything fits together brilliantly.


I can’t wait to hear a full length out of this band. This EP and the prior Therapy speak of how directly, deeply satisfying it has the potential to be, and Māra feel like a band who are going to have ever more and more to give and say going forward. Self Destruct is another razor sharp set of rock-solid tunes that has a great deal to give any listener.

Author: Thomas Carne

Heard Faith No More on TV as a kid then 30 years later realised that had caused him to embark on an accidental lifetime mission to get funny looks roughly anywhere he went. Runs on caffeine and huge riffs. Intermittently disappears into videogames for fortnights at a time.

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