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‘The Darkest Room’ is a promising debut album from Swedish melodic heavy metal band Manimal, their current line-up have been together since 2002. The musicianship is tight and impressive whilst the production is both strong and clear. First track ‘Shadows’ kicks proceedings off in fine style, being a near power metal colossus with Samuel Nyman's vocals reminding me of former Helloween frontman Michael Kiske. His superb voice immediately grabs your attention as it does on the title track, which is built around a slower chugging riff. ‘Living Dead’ continues the fine start, taking the sound back to a more conventional power metal style. ‘I Am’ has an intense grinding feel but manages to retain the strong melodies that is evident throughout the album. The solo on this track is well constructed and flows superbly. ‘Ordinary Man’ and ‘Human Nature’ shows off Nyman's vocal dramatics and are vaguely reminiscent of King Diamond. Unfortunately, the former comes across as a fairly dull plodder with only the vocals impressing. The latter, thankfully is a return to the form shown on the earlier tracks and is loaded with many great riffs from the consistently excellent Henrik Stenroos. ‘Spinegrinder’ is fairly typical of the earlier tracks but does feature a softer middle passage, which stands out as being quite different to anything else on the album whilst the faster paced ‘Dreamers And Fools’ brings to mind the classic power metal of Helloween and Stratovarius. The excellent final track ‘The Life We Lived’ ends the album in style, being both a power metal tour de force and the catchiest, most commercial track featured on the album. ‘The Darkest Room’ features many highlights but the lack of a certain amount of variety and the largely grinding, slow to mid-tempo rhythms does let the album down a little. In spite of this, ‘The Darkest Room’ does feature plenty of memorable riffs, stunning vocals and strong melodies to admire and can be recommended to any ardent fan of melodic heavy/power metal.
AFM Records
Review by Dave Crewe
15th June 2009
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
"...plenty of memorable riffs, stunning vocals and strong melodies to admire and can be recommended to any ardent fan of melodic heavy/power metal."