Words: Craig Hartranft
It's been some six years, but Gothenburg's Manimal has returned with their sophomore release, Trapped In The Shadows. In this time, they've also made some personnel changes, like totally replacing their rhythm section with Andre Holmqvist on drums and Kenny Boufadene on bass. Of greater interest to metal fans is the guest appearance by legendary metal vocalist Udo Dirkschneider on the song, The Journey.
But backing up a bit first, Manimal's metal is the classic heavy power metal variety, perhaps more on the European side than the American. Yet, one of the first things you'll notice is Samuel Nyman's vocals. He's definitely channeling the Rob Halford vibe, maybe even with some Geoff Tate and Ralf Scheppers thrown in as well. Actually, my first impression with the first spin was that Manimal sounds like a heavier Primal Fear, and little synth embellishment. While you might hear some latent or subtle keyboards, Manimal's style revolves entirely around a barrage of riffage, strengthened by foreboding and rampaging back line. With that riffage, Guitar solos rise and rain upon like New Year's Eve fireworks.
As to the arrangements and pacing, excepting the metal anthem feel of The Journey, most every song here is quick paced and raging. Yet Man-made Devil takes a more steady pace, a slower tempo. An interesting aside, another song, Screaming Out makes use of a children's choir for background vocals. But if hadn't had that information in the press kit, my ears may have not picked it up. Which leads me to another observation. I wasn't completely satisfied by the vocal side of things. Not so much Nyman's skill, but how the came across in the album. Certainly Nyman is a strong, clean singing, metal vocalist, maybe a bit screamo. But it was how his voice sounded in the mix with the other instruments, like he was muted or pushed down somewhere between recording and mastering. Otherwise, with their return and Trapped In The Shadows, Manimal definitely puts the power into their melodic and heavy power metal with solid results that will please any fan of the genre.
With their return and Trapped In The Shadows, Manimal definitely puts the power into their melodic and heavy power metal with solid results that will please any fan of the genre.
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