Released: September 7th, 2018
Hailing from Sweden, a country with a very rich and diverse metal scene, and combining heavy metal with power metal elements into a very cohesive sound, Manimal are definitely a band to watch out for. Formed in 2001 in Gothenburg, they had since released a couple of demos, as well as two well-received albums – “The Darkest Room” (2009) and “Trapped in the Shadows” (2015), both good examples of modern power metal fueled by musical enthusiasm and groovy new ideas. With “Purgatorio” the band goes all in, taking their brand of metal to a new level. “Purgatorio” is out via AFM Records on September 7th, which coincided with their show at Progpower USA.
Commenting on the title of the album, Samuel Nyman stated:“First, it’s the title of one of the strongest songs of the album. Second, it’s a powerful word that fits perfectly as the title of a metal album in general and this recording in particular. For me, it reflects the state of mankind and the world today – the general, ongoing decay which we seem to lack the ability to stop. Many of the lyrics on the album circle around that kind of theme.”
Spreading the dread
Behind enemy lines
Edge of darkness
The fear within
Heavy, yet extremely melodic and diverse, “Purgatorio” offers nine solid tracks that can easily be seen as metal anthems that give off certain Judas Priest / Primal Fear vibes, and this is in no way a bad thing. Vocalist Samuel Nyman doesn’t hold back and delivers one hooky chorus and melodic line after the other, while his commanding voice soars above the tight instrumental, as for instance on the groovy title track, or on the mid-tempo rocker “Spreading the Dread”. Also, I love the contrast in his voice between the low and high notes as for example on “Denial”, or his lows on “Black plague” and his highs on the chorus of “The fear within”. I haven’t heard many singers that sound so different between ranges, and he kind of reminds me of Ville Valo (formerly of HIM), but also of Mike Mills (Toehider, Ayreon) while his highs and high pitched screams remind me of Rob Halford. Odd combination, I know.
Nyman’s vocals blend perfectly with the elegant licks and guitar lines provided by Henrik Stenroos, which are the backbone of Manimal’s edgy sound. The guitar solo on the heavy number “Manimalize” is as good an example as any other one of Henrik’s skills, because there are quite a number of them on the album, each as great as the next. The bass and drums parts are not to be taken lightly, as they are as equally important to the overall balance of the music. As such I just love the groovy guitar / bass overlap at the beginning on “The fear within” as well as Kenny Boufadene’s bass lines throughout the track “Purgatorio”. The drums on “Behind enemy lines” and “Black plague” are great examples of Andre Holmqvist’s powerful drum style. “Denial” has a certain industrial vibe à la Rammstein, while the heavy “Edge of darkness” has an underlying melancholy feel to it. As you can probably tell, this album is quite diverse but also very dynamic and engaging, from the atmospheric intro on “Black plague” until the dark “The fear within” closes the album on a very emotional note.
With hefty riffs, pounding drums, rhythmic bass, powerful vocals and a balanced mix of everything, Manimal’s impressive “Purgatorio” is taking its rightful place in the pantheon of heavy power metal albums delivered with gusto and expertise, alongside Powerwolf’s “Sacrament of Sin”, Follow the Cipher’s eponymous debut album, Borealis’ “The Offering” or Lords of Black’s “Icons of the new days”, to name a few. Highly recommend you give this album a few spins!
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Samuel Nyman – vocals
Henrik Stenroos – Guitars
Kenny Boufadene – Bass
André Holmqvist – Drums