Manimal – Armageddon (Album Review)

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

A looming shadow graces the end times.

Labels are a useful tool in connecting objects with those whom seek them, but they are naturally imperfect and can occasionally be misleading. Further complicating the matter is that with the passage of time and the necessary evolution in circumstances that comes with it, yesterday’s genre will encompass a far more expansive array of subjects today. Even the seemingly clear cut sub-genre of power metal is not immune to this state of affairs, as where once the likes of Helloween, Stratovarius and Gamma Ray were the benchmarks of said label, a growing number of sub-styles have emerged in subsequent years that bear less resemblance to the consonant chords and speed metal trappings of said iconic bands. Such is the unique circumstance of Sweden’s Manimal, a band that was born at the tail end of the 2nd wave of power metal’s heyday circa 2001, yet from their 2009 debut “The Darkest Room” to their subsequent LPs with AFM Records, has encompassed a more varied definition of the term.

Per the testimony of the band’s highly competent vocal gymnast and helmsman Samuel Nyman, the pool of influences that shapes this quartet’s signature sound is quite diverse. Such noted names as Judas Priest, Queensryche and King Diamond are counted among the classic outfits that feed into Manimal’s unique sound, both in terms of Nyman’s wide range of vocal expressions and the impressive cathedral of metallic bluster that surrounds his voice. The resulting signature sound can be best described as a dark and dense allusion to the heavier, groove-oriented and somewhat mechanistic brand of power metal with a slight progressive edge that was en vogue for a brief period in the later 2000s via the output of such noted bands as Tad Morose, Steel Attack and even Bloodbound’s one-off stylistic pivot Tabula Rasa in 2009. Combined with a more speed metal oriented execution comparable to Primal Fear and Rage, the result is something a bit more kinetic, but equally as accessible as bigger names on the darker side of the power metal coin such as Brainstorm and Firewind.

At times it gets a bit tricky to determine whether the highly impressive vocal displays that hang over these anthems or the highly potent musical ideas being bandied about by the instrumentation is the chief draw. Occasionally the template calls for fast-paced cruisers like the dark thrashing speeder of a title song “Armageddon”, alongside similarly Judas Priest-inspired percussive anthems like “Forged In Metal” and the slightly more tuneful Queenryche-tinged “Evil Soul” that cook with the same intensity as the past few Primal Fear albums, though Nyman’s vocals have a bit more of a King Diamond affectation to them. While at other times the tempo slows to a steady march as on the classic romp “Chains Of Fury” or a thudding modern groove like “Path Of The Unknown”, which sees both the vocal work and riffs occasionally veering into Nevermore territory. For the most part, the songs tend to favor a speedier approach, which plays well to drummer Andre Holmqvist’s double kick drumming tendencies, though the songs that shine the brightest of the bunch are groovy, precision-based slammers like “Master Of Pain” and “Slaves Of Babylon”.

“Armageddon” Album Artwork

If nothing else, Manimal’s divergent approach and the continued practice of AFM Records in labeling them a power metal band speaks to the sub-genre’s versatility and diverse array of proponents. Naturally the label fails to tell the whole story, as the modernized, occasionally progressive and often reverting to early 90s heavy metal with a speed/thrashing bent mixture here could just as easily have an expansive descriptor along the lines of Mystic Prophecy’s power/speed/thrash label attributed to it and be accurate. It checks all of the boxes of an aggressive fair that will play well to those who don’t necessarily go for the campier side of the power metal coin, and sees strong performances turned in by all in congress, though one would be particularly out of line in failing to note how the masterful riff work and songwriting of guitarist Henrik Stenroos establishes him as the de facto driving force of the band. This is a band that has come a long way in the past 20 years, and given the many changes for the better that have occurred since 2009, while this is the band’s top showing yet, the best may be yet to come.

Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: December 3rd, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal

“Armageddon” Tracklist:

1. Burn In Hell
2. Armageddon
3. Slaves Of Babylon
4. Forged In Metal
5. Chains Of Fury
6. Evil Soul
7. Path To the Unknown
8. Master Of Pain
9. Insanity
10. The Inevitable End

MANIMAL is:

  • Samuel Nyman / Vocals
  • Henrik Stenroos / Guitars
  • Kenny Boufadene / Bass
  • André Holmqvist / Drums

“Armageddon” is available as LP, CD and Digital formats at this location.

9.3 Excellent

Continuing down their path towards a darker, more nuanced and versatile take on the power metal formula, Sweden’s enigmatic quartet Manimal deliver another opus of forbidding odes to metal’s past and more refined present on their 4th studio outing

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 9
  • Production 9
Share.

Comments are closed.

24,457Fans
2,002Followers
36,600Subscribers