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Manitou: Deadlock

This band is not be confused with the ultra-technical Norwegian prog metal band with Oyvind Haegeland on vocals before he joined Spiral Architect. This Manitou is a a young band from Finland. You might have heard of them since they played as Paul Di'Anno's backing band in 2004 when he was on tour playing classic Maiden material. Deadlock is the second Manitou album. The somewhat melodic prog tendencies on their debut The Mad Moon Rising, complete with keyboards, have been abandoned in favour of a more straightforward and heavier direction.

Deadlock features almost no keyboards and is primarily meant to conjure up images of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Tarot, Annihilator as well as Urban Breed-era Tad Morose. It is vocalist Markku Pihlaja's amazing vocals that prove to be the driving force behind most of the songs, as he is capable of all kinds of vocal styles, from classic Euro power metal style stuff on "...and the Silence Bites", not the best song on the album; to the the more Tarot-like delivery on the accomplished "Waste, Damnation", thick with distinct Finnish melodicism, shredding leads, and soaring harmonies. New guitarist Markus Vanhala, formerly of death metal band Omnium Gatherum, surprised me quite a bit with his impressive technique, utilising lots of sweep arpeggios, chugging rhythms alongside second guitarist Antti Lauren, and fast, power metal-inspired heavy lead work. The riffs on "State of Mind", despite being picked really fast, are dangerously melodic and work perfectly under Pihlaja's powerful singing, evocative of former Tad Morose singer Urban Breed. With its chiming bass, furious drumming and exquisite guitars, this is an amazingly energetic number.

Aside from its brief bluesy intro, "Black Burning Flame" feels like a Bruce Dickinson track from his much overlooked Skunkworks album. This song also contains neoclassical sweeps, quieter sections, and even processed vocals. While Deadlock is more in the traditional metal territory of the genre, traces of Manitou's aim for other expressions are still vivid. For example, "Pschoracer" starts out in a very harsh, raw style. The vocals are throaty, as if it's someone else singing; suddenly however, Ismo Laukkanen begins to play a funky bass line till everything else quietens down. This is then followed by a cool blues meets jazz experimentation on twin guitars, bringing out the band's proggy roots. The instrumental "Black Meadow (Menace of War)" expands further on this style. Calm acoustic guitars spiral into sharp electric leads and the song constantly alternates between heavy and slow passages till it segues into its eight-minute counterpart "Black Meadow", basically a track that encapsulates the general Deadlock sound. From melodic to aggressive, heavy and slow, thrashy and progressive, it's the definitive representative of this track.

Finland isn't all about dark gothic bands or Stratovarius clones. They also produced the terribly overlooked Tarot, one of the greatest heavy metal bands of the last twenty years, and I feel Manitou are walking on the same path. They certainly deserve every metalhead's attention.

Track Listing

  1. ...and the Silence Bites
  2. Fools in Control
  3. Waste, Damnation
  4. State of Mind
  5. Black Burning Flame
  6. Swallowing the Dark
  7. Pschoracer
  8. Lead a Wild Ride
  9. By the Waves of the Stars
  10. Black Meadow (Menace of War)
  11. Black Meadow

Added: July 20th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Manitou website
Hits: 1233
Language: english

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