Swedish metal band Manimal was founded in 2001. They are made up of Samuel Nyman (vocals), Henrik Stenroos (guitar), André Holmqvist (drums) and Kenny Boufadene (bass). Their first full-length album, The Darkest Room, was released in 2009 and, for the last couple of years, the band has been working on the follow-up. Trapped In The Shadows is a diverse and thoughtful album, with top banana musicianship and a steely sense of purpose.
I enjoy Power Metal as much as any genre in rock and am a huge fan of Sonata Arctica, who I believe are the best exponent of the art in the world. In addition, Helloween and Unisonic are right up there, but Manimal are approaching the upper echelon with this release.
The production is clear as a bell and each instrument is given ample room to shine. The guitar work by Stenroos is exceptional, especially on the tracks “Invincible” and “Screaming Out“, underlying a Queensryche vibe that extends across the whole record. The latter song is also notable for its use of a children’s choir, singing the lines “I can hear them calling/And their time is running out“.
The album is a veritable exemplar in emotional blackening with its’ songs about destruction and shattered souls. The lyrics spew out venom like a Power Metal cobra, blinding listeners with its anger and despair, in equal measure. This blackness is underlined by tunes such as “March of Madness” with its coda “Wounded we stand at the gate/Tortured by angels and blessed by the demons“…Poetry in pain for sure, but effective at emoting that pain!
German legend Udo Dirkschneider makes a welcome guest appearance on “The Journey”. His rasping vocals excellently complement Nyman‘s clean vocals and the track builds up to a fabulous climax, bringing the greatest early Accept songs to memory.
The whole album is a classy affair, with great songs wringing out blackened emotions and provides an interesting modern take on Power Metal for 2016.