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ManStrand: Hell (With) The King

Playing pop music in a Swedish band called Freedom, Carl Manstrand made his escape to form an altogether heavier beast in the shape of ManStrand. Featuring his own vocals and guitar playing, alongside second six stringer Richard Hoerberg and Carl's ex band mate and bassist Fredrik Appelgren, the trio rounded the recording session out with studio drummer Hakan Hansson (who has been replaced on stage by John Sempill).

As with so many bands currently doing the rounds ManStrand's musical basis is the seventies rock of classic bands such as Rainbow and UFO, although on this occasion a hefty dose of Judas Priest is also added to the mix. With an avalanche of outfits ploughing this particular musical furrow right now, it is a tall order for bands to make a huge impact and really stand out from the crowd. Especially as would appear to be the case here, when that attempt is made without the backing of a label, or quality production budget. What has however been produced by this group of hairy Swedes is undoubtedly good time and honest metal that, while never really setting the world on fire, does show some decent song writing ability and a desire not to be carbon copies of what has inspired them. The band obviously completely believe in what they are doing and the guitar pairing of Manstrand and Hoerberg are a more than capable duo, with some impressive solos being ripped out and a really tight understanding between the two across the whole album.

What lets the album down though comes from three main areas, firstly the production, which is of the cheap and cheerful variety (the album was recorded in Carl's home studio), however that in itself isn't a huge stumbling block mainly due to you almost being able to taste the sweat that was created by the band as they tore through these tracks and the good honest, earthy sound can be forgiven in those circumstances. Manstrand himself however lacks a strong enough voice to overcome the basic arrangements and while a real howler in the shape of say Tim "Ripper" Owens, or an enthusiastic warbler like Toby Jepson would have added colour and character to these songs, Carl struggles to really impose himself. Over and above both of these niggles is the drumming throughout the whole disc, as Hakan Hansson really lays down the most basic of beats and adds little in the way of flair with fills, flicks, or flurries being thin on the ground and what little there are being very predictable. With the addition of Sempill, possibly ManStrand will now move on with a drummer who will live with the songs long enough to ingrain a personal style on the music that will add an impetus and attack sorely missing here.

Considering how impressive the guitar work is on Hell (With) The King, there is hope that ManStrand could evolve into a unit with true flair and power, however on this debut album there are just too many times where you know that the fret blazing duo's potential can't make up for the other short comings on display, which is a shame.


Track Listing
1. Come On
2. Classica
3. Death Incarnate
4. Demon Fighters
5. Passing The Stars
6. She's Not
7. Take A Time
8. Hell (With) The King
9. Stars In The Sky
10. She Was Only 17
11. Surrendered
12. She's So Eazy

Added: July 1st 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: ManStrand MySpace
Hits: 1051
Language: english

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