Manimal – “Trapped In The Shadows” (AFM Records)
Well, if you’re going to aspire to be the best, then listen to the best! Possibly the only band that’s taken eight long years to get its chemistry right and perfect its songs, Sweden’s Manimal are anything but ordinary. Despite coming from Gothenburg, the band play heavy / power metal highly influenced by Priest and Queensryche almost in indifferent rebellion to their town’s famed style of melodic death metal. Then there’s the name. Commonly thought of as being inspired by the WASP song – or worse the 80s TV series – Manimal actually drew inspiration from their own music that synthesizes animal savagery with human intellect and emotions. Pretty accurate! From vocalist Samuel Nyman’s piercing, air raid siren vocals that occasionally head into King Diamond shrills to Henrik Stenroos’s heavy, chugging guitars and André Holmqvist’s piston driving double bass drumming there is certainly a fearsome beast in this band. However, the human element then lends to the clean soulfulness of the singing with plenty of Chris DeGarmo futuristic prog melodies and soloing that clearly show Manimal’s finesse in what is a challenging mix of distinct styles. Definitely worth the wait of all those years to get it right! With their debut “The Darkest Room” already gaining interest, the band are keen to accelerate their progress and listening to high quality delivered songs like ‘Man Made Devil’ and ‘Psychopomp’ its clear that Manimal are aiming for the top by having Udo Dirkschneider guesting on ‘The Journey’, a music video for the opening track ‘Irresistible’, and with production handled by Achim Koehler (Primal Fear, Brainstorm, Sinner) – and there’s nothing, on the face of it, to stop them getting there such is their talent on this stirring album!