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Manimal - The darkest room 3/5

Reviewed: 9-4-09


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

In a year of many metal bands releasing their debut CDs, another band has now been added to the list with heavy metal outfit Manimal releasing their debut CD, entitled ‘The darkest room’. Manimal was conceived in 2001 and released 3 self-made demos in ’02, ’05 and ’06 before being releasing their full-length release in February this year. Since then the band has been signed by AFM Records; their hard work finally paying off after 8 long years. AFM will distribute the CD in Europe and America, and were scheduled for June and August releases respectively.

The band is comprised of guitarist Henrik “Hank” Stenroos, drummer Richard “Rikki” Mentzer, bassist Pether “Pete” Mentzer and vocalist Samuel “Sam” Nyman; all of whom are still the original members of the band. ‘The darkest room’, has been given immense praise and great reviews across the board, from metal magazines such as Metal Hammer and many e-zines around the world like this one.

With 9 solid tracks, ‘The darkest room’ is a slab of sophisticated modern heavy metal with some progressive metal elements; nothing groundbreaking, but nevertheless entertaining and quite good for a debut CD. All tracks have that dark and stormy feel to it and are all mid-paced, except for the speedy track “Dreamers and fools”, which has an obvious Stratovarius influence written all over it. One strongpoint of the CD is the attention to songwriting, which is pleasant and erratic at the same time. No doubt the band will truly find their direction musically and head that way directly with their next release. Vocalist Sam Nyman is a talented singer with great emotion in his delivery. In the majority of the tracks, Nyman has an aggressive tone which turns to high-pitched soaring in a flip of a coin. Similarities with Nyman who come to mind include Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) and the late John “Midnight” McDonald.

However, the real highlight on the release is the top guitaring of Hank Stenroos, who rips out some heavy, rhythmic and stern chords and riffs. One of his best pieces comes from the track “I am”, where the opening driving riff sends your head banging. The song as a whole is quite aggressive and one of the best on the CD. Other standout tracks within ‘The darkest room’ include the emotional “Ordinary man”, the brooding dark “Spinegrinder”, the above-mentioned “Dreamers and fools” and the CD finale “The life we lived”, which I would say is the best track on the release.

There is a lot to like from this debut CD from Manimal, however, I find that they do struggle at times to be consistent with every track. There are possibly a few tracks which could have been better, and just lack that special something, which the better songs mentioned before have. Simple growing pains I'm sure, and the next release will certainly push the band up the metal ranks. Still, one of the better debut’s of 2009, Manimal’s ‘The darkest room’ should be sought after by fans of melodic metal, modern heavy metal and also dark power metal as there is plenty of great stuff and heaps to appreciate from these Swedish metallers.




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