Manimal – Purgatorio (AFM Records)Monday, 10th September 2018
The third album for Swedish metal band Manimal, Purgatorio aims at the heart of traditional power metal once again providing sturdy riffs, plenty of double kick tempo grooves and soaring melodies. While many bands gravitate towards the major key brightness of Helloween and their offspring when it comes to this genre, these gentlemen prefer to tackle things from a Judas Priest/ Primal Fear angle, occasionally upping the game progressively with a few off-time tricks and embellishments to separate their potent foundation from others.
Early on the title track at second in the proceedings not only highlights Samuel Nyman in melodic eagle highs that will make Rob Halford and Ralf Scheepers proud, but also flexes orchestral and progressive dynamics to make you feel like you are taking in Nocturnal Rites and a bit of Kamelot. You get the sense that guitarist Henrik Stenroos took great pleasure to lay down some sinister, heads down rhythms and thoughtful lead breaks throughout – showcasing his vast, wide array of talents in “Manimalized” and “Edge of Darkness”. Conceding that all power metal cannot live in the same BPM, the slower semi-modern chug of “Spreading the Dread” could be a future fan favorite, the main hooks almost veering into that Alter Bridge/Shinedown landscape even as Samuel once again shows the breadth of his multi-octave power. Beyond this, there’s a definitely left field turn for “Denial” – the main riff more Rammstein than Manimal, while exercising restraint at the chorus and drum-wise allowing André Holmqvist to fluctuate between Tommy Lee-like grooves and Mike Portnoy sophistication.
Not exactly breaking new ground, Purgatorio is a combination of smartly executed melodies and hooks all put together in a proper heavy/power metal record. Given the fact that Judas Priest issued one of their strongest albums in decades and is touring arenas again, maybe bands like Manimal can benefit from the renewed interest for that old school charge and bite.