Label: AFM Records
Date: October 8th, 2021
“Armageddon” is my first encounter with this twenty year old band from Sweden. To be honest, I took to reviewing this record because I’m a big fan of W.A.S.P. Naturally, “Manimal” is among my favorites from the filthy rich opus of these US titans. In that regard I am left disappointed because the Swedes sound nothing like them. Still, it is undeniable that the word is just about perfect for a name of a heavy metal band.
So, I’ve told you what these “manimals” don’t sound like. What they do sound like is basically a power metalized version of Judas Priest. There are a couple more bands to be mentioned here, as influences, but the predominant one is the British monolith.
Actually, already on the opener “Burn in Hell” (nope, not a cover track) you will be reminded of Mr. Halford’s solo effort. “Ressurection” to be exact. The similarities mostly stem from the weighty production work. Of course, you cannot make such comparisons, with Judas or Halford, without the vocal performance. It is there, no doubts. Samuel Nyman has a brilliant tone and the chords that reproduce the Mount Everest of vocal heights.
The title track that stands as A2 on the record starts with somewhat of a Children Of Bodom rip-off in the introduction, but ends up being a heavy metal anthem after all.
And so on and so forth, track after track, “Armageddon” stands its ground quite firmly. The album is, when it comes to genre in question, mostly classic heavy metal oriented. What gives it the mentioned power metal charm are the multiplied vocals, in just the right time and place, along with the guitar melodies and progressions. Galloping rhythms do not hurt either.
Those parts sort-of mellow down the hard hitting metalwork, but they certainly add color to the shiny chrome of the record. Thinking about the tougher side of Dream Theater or Queensrÿche, in particular.
I just thought of Dream Evil and their take on powerful heavy metal. Another good pointer for what Manimal has on display.
Now, “Armageddon” is a cliché record, to a point. It does not offer any inventive approaches, but resurrects the standards of the genre. Even the song titles proclaim it with all the pride possible. Corpse paint on the band members’ faces hardly makes for an original touch. Then again, when was the last time you heard a record in this style that stood out from the long ago established roots?
With that in mind, it needs to be said that Manimal perhaps failed to create a timeless classic. However, they crafted an honest record which shows all their inspirations clearly and it is obviously aimed at those with metal hearts. Hence, “Armageddon” stomps a middle ground. Long way from a must-have, but not quite one to easily dismiss. Twenty years on the scene and a label of quite a stature behind them, it’s looking good enough from my perspective.