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Manimal: The Darkest Room

Although they were formed in Gothenburg in 2001, The Darkest Room is Manimal's debut album. What having to wait 8 years for that first release would appear to have done, is to ensure that what we have here is a surprisingly assured and confident set of power metal songs.

With a sound that manages to mix the standard European metal feel of someone like Dream Evil, without those comic book lyrics, with the slightly more abrasive American approach of Cloudscape. Add to that touches of Queensryche and Crimson Glory and then imagine it all played by Tony Iommi during the Dio years and you will get some idea of where Manimal are coming from.

"Spinegrinder" is a prime example of the Iommi like guitar work with a menacing repetitive riff that just oozes with evil intent; it's an excellent song with a chorus line that will have you receiving strange looks from passersby as you sing "Spinegrinder" over and over, and time and again Henrik Stenroos comes up with excellent riffs and lead breaks.

If Stenroos is impressive then wait until you get a load of vocalist Samuel Nyman. He has an amazing range which includes a piercing, forcing falsetto similar to Tony Mills or the much missed Midnight of Crimson Glory. Admittedly it is a weapon which is sometimes over used, "Ordinary Man" sees Nyman virtually scream his way through the majority of the song, however when he tones it down a bit and mixes it with the stunningly strong low end vocal he possesses then he is a genuinely tremendous singer.

While the afore mentioned "Ordinary Man" doesn't have the strongest vocal on the album, it still has some mighty fine musicianship on offer, drummer Richard Mentzer flurries round the kit, yet keeps the thumping beat like a human metronome, while his brother Pether on bass knows when to mix things up and when to keep things simple.

Together Richard, Penther and Stenroos make a formidable, heavy team and when you add Nyman's often stunning vocals into the mix then the majority of The Darkest Room is accomplished and polished.

There are no real weak tracks on the album, although special mention must go to "Shadows" with its Queensryche duelling with Sabbath like guitar and Nyman on top form, the mid paced title track where Nyman adds a little Dio sneer to his phrasing and "Dreamers and Fools" with its tearing guitars and bass married to machine gun snare and soaring vocals. Excellent though these songs are they are all put in the shade by "Spinegrinder" with its awesome guitar and hook laden chorus.

Manimal are not quite the finished article yet, however The Darkest Room is an impressive starting point and I will be looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

Track list:
1. Shadows
2. The Darkest Room
3. Living Dead
4. I Am
5. Ordinary Man
6. Human Nature
7. Spinegrinder
8. Dreamers And Fools
9. The Life We Lived

Added: January 6th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3565
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Manimal: The Darkest Room
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-01-06 14:54:26
My Score:

There's a certain thing called 'crunch' that's not only a characteristic of heavy metal, but it's a necessity. This debut from Manimal, titled The Darkest Room, has plenty of the crunch factor, thanks for the capable talents of guitarist Henrik Stenroos, a powerhouse player who unleashes a non-stop barrage of killer riffs and flashy leads throughout the nine tracks of The Darkest Room. His meaty, pinch-harmonic driven power chords on the heavy "Human Nature" takes that song to levels that we usually see Primal Fear, Sinner, or Brainstorm hitting, and his slower, doomier riffs on "Spinegrinder" recall some of the best of Black Sabbath and Candlemass. Throw in some speedier fare on "Dreamers and Fools", and you have a guitar player who can practically do it all.

Let's not forget the rest of the band here-Samuel Nyman does a fine job hitting those Ralf Scheepers/Ripper Owens/Midnight/Michael Kiske/Timo Koltipelto high notes, and the rhythm team of Pether & Richard Mentzer are completely rock solid. There's no shortage of highlights on the rest of the CD, including "Shadows", "The Life We Lived", and "I Am", but in all honesty, each song here is a ripper, and deserving of your attention.

The production on The Darkest Room is full of balls and quite in your face, the songs memorable, and the playing exceptional. These lads from Gothenburg show a boatload of talent, and though I'm not nuts about the name Manimal, I think they have a very bright future in store for them.

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