Having started as a more progressive-influenced band, they shifted to a classic Maiden type with their second album and now with No Signs of Wisdom, their third album, Finland's Manitou expand further on the more traditional metal stylings they displayed on Deadlock.
Starting with the first track "In This Indolence", the Finnish band exert typical Maiden-esque songwriting, chock full of melodic twin guitar harmonies, a chugging bass groove, smooth legato-styled guitar work, and powerful vocals. The Maiden influence is further emphasized on "Dread of the Freaks", possibly the album's finest offering, as even vocalist Markku Pihlaja recalls the great Bruce Dickinson with his strong delivery. On this song, Ismo Laukkanen's bass is central, driving the whole piece to a melodious apex with an enchanting guitar solo at the end. Likewise, Pihlaja's vocalization on the title track is indeed on par with that of Bruce Dickinson's. Another bass-rich composition, the song also features some synth work in its intro as well as clever use of acoustic guitars in the middle. This is easily the centrepiece of the whole album.
The band's influences obviously range from the greats of NWOBH to Finland's greatest heavy metal band Tarot to perhaps even mid-era Tad Morose (think Undead and Matters of the Dark). The twin guitars on "The End Within", for instance, are reminiscent of Saxon whilst the faster and more energetic "Harbringer" finds the band sustaining strong dynamic shifts, as the overtly aggressive riffing contrasts Pihlaja's surprisingly clean and smooth singing. They delve deeper into a more rock-based format on "Polluted World" complete with an impressive guitar solo; while the slightly blues-tinged intro of "Some of the Sins Revealed" is yet another piece that features a slow acoustic passage in the middle.
Much to my surprise, the band returns to their older style on the album finale "August Sky", a song at over eleven minutes. Arguably their most progressive piece, the track boasts both textural guitar work and more rhythm-based exercises whilst the singing really takes the song to a whole new level. It would be really amazing to hear this guy in a more progressive band that allows him to use broader vocal styles.
Provided that they expect nothing new or groundbreaking, fans of traditional heavy metal will certainly enjoy No Signs of Wisdom, another solid entry into Manitou's body of work.
- In This Indolence
- Dread of the Freaks
- No Signs of Wisdom
- The End Within
- Polluted World
- Some of the Sins Revealed
- The Loon
- August Sky