MANIMAL – Purgatorio (2018)
Swedes MANIMAL have been around for a while, releasing two albums prior to this “Purgatorio”, their new effort to be available tomorrow. Borrowing from the 2000’s and 90’s eras, these dudes have been showcasing music which could be traced to bands like Primal Fear, Avantasia and Judas Priest.
Yes, Manimal isn’t a great band name. Hell, it isn’t even a good one. But don’t judge the band or this album based on that or their looks. Highly dubious moniker aside, Manimal is a talented four piece with the good sense to graft a ton of traditional metal and mixing it with accessible melodies.
“Black Plague” is a direct, midtempo heavy rocker which resembles Primal Fear with a strong bridge and chorus, which quickly pumps you up to one the best songs in the album, title track “Purgatorio”. Creating a cool atmosphere right from the start with killer riffs and awesome drumwork by André Holmqvist, the song soars high in the chorus, where singer Samuel “Sam” Nyman deliver a solid Ralf Scheepers-like howls, but clearer.
“Manimalized” is where the band starts to play around more and more with the classic metal portion of the album. The main course from now on are guitar lines reminiscent of Judas Priest / Accept with surgically inserted melodic elements.
“Spreading the Dread” continues with the slower approach even turning some kind of edgy melodic hard rock by giving Nyman the spotlight, which he then shares with the lucid bass lines by Kenny Boufadene, giving a cool groove to the effort.
The solos in the album, courtesy of Henrik Stenroos, are another great asset here, by being prolific or objective when needed without sounding arrogant.
Songs like “Traitor” and “Denial” further consolidate Manimal as a modern sounding reliable band, as the crunchy riffs, blasting drums and carefully crafted mix of instrumental and vocal lines seem always like the right choices at the right times, making the entire endeavor sound organic and fun.
“Behind Enemy Lines”, for instance, use these elements quite well by allying the overall instrumental with some nice keyboard lines in the backgrounds and a bang-along chorus; a song that will definitely be played live.
Another good track, “Edge of Darkness”, mixes things up even more with some progressive elements, adding an emotional charge to their work akin Jorn, ore Avantasia. While the chorus is not that exciting, the instrumental part serves as the main feature here.
Closing the album in decent form comes “The Fear Within”, which revisits the band back catalog and once again make use of the 21st century accessible power metal approach, with slower and denser playing in the verse and highly melodic elements in the chorus.
Manimal may have a silly name, and play music tailor-made for classic metal traditionalists, but man, they can drop a rocking tune. With great production, solid songwriting and a good amount of memorable parts, “Purgatorio” illustrates the image of a band focused on doing what they love: classic melodic metal with modern arrangements and sound design.
01 – Black Plague
02 – Purgatorio
03 – Manimalized
04 – Spreading the Dread
05 – Traitor
06 – Behind Enemy Lines
07 – Denial
08 – Edge of Darkness
09 – The Fear Within
Samuel “Sam” Nyman – Vocals
Henrik “Hank” Stenroos – Guitars
Kenny Boufadene – Bass
André Holmqvist – Drums