“I think it will shine through in your music if you’re not honest with yourself. We are very honest with ourselves, and we make music we love to hear.”
Wise words from Samuel Nyman, the voice behind Swedish power metallers Manimal on the eve of completing the band’s fourth official album, Armageddon. As expected of a band that claims Judas Priest, King Diamond and Queensrÿche as major influences on their sound since Day 1, the new record is a high energy, in-your-face salute to the music that inspired Manimal’s formation 20 years ago. From the aptly titled lead-off single “Forged In Metal” to the scorching album opener “Burn In Hell”, the crushing anthem “Chains Of Fury” to the schizophrenic “Master Of Pain”, Armageddon showcases Manimal as band unafraid to unleash their own brand of power metal on the world. For the naysayers that believe Manimal doesn’t offer up anything original, the quartet stands by the fact they have never tried to hide their influences in any way, shape or form.
Calling Manimal “just” a power metal band, however, is way off the mark according to Nyman.
“We are more than power metal. It was AFM that put Manimal into the power metal category with our first album, and we understand that completely because they had to put us in a genre to guide people. Power metal for me are bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius; they have more up-tempo songs, more vocal harmonies. Sure, Manimal does have power metal elements but we’re not pure power metal. There is more to us than that and I think the new album is perfect example of that.”
The songwriting for Armageddon was once again headed up by guitarist Henrik Stenroos, considered by his bandmates to be the musical mastermind behind Manimal. And therein lies the secret to the band’s more-than-power-metal sound. Stenroos listens to all different types of music and because of that colourful musical palette, according to Nyman, “he boils it down and gets his own ideas, trying to create something he likes himself.” Stenroos has a solid riff-oriented approach to Manimal’s music, and the material he presented to the rest of the band for Armageddon were actual songs rather than just mere ideas. As with their three previous records, the quartet worked together fleshing the songs into their final form.
“The vocals harmonies Henrik gives me are played with the guitar,” says Nyman, offering up one example of their creative process for Armageddon. “We have been making music together for so many years now that I can almost hear by the way he’s playing how he wants me to deliver the vocals. Sometimes he comes up with ideas and tries to make me sing them in a way I’m not comfortable with, but often those problems solve themselves if they come up because it just doesn’t sound good, so we move on to the next song. It’s not very often that we disagree in the songwriting process.”
Manimal’s evolution between Armageddon and their first album, The Darkest Room – released in 2009 – is unquestionable. Their songwriting has become tighter, stronger and bolder, and they have improved by leaps and bounds as musicians. Each single marked for release from Armageddon – “Forged In Metal”, “The Inevitable End”, “Burn In Hell” and the title track – is testament to this. And although it has taken two decades to get this far, Nyman and his bandmates wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Even though we were dreaming at the beginning of Manimal to go on tour like everyone does when you start a band, it took nine years before we released an album. I think that was good because it gave us the time to develop. We weren’t ready to release albums and tour when we started this band in 2000. The material wasn’t strong enough. Now it’s a completely different story and through experience we’re confident in ourselves and our music. We can’t wait for people to hear Armageddon.”
(Author: Carl Begai)
01 – Burn In Hell
02 – Armageddon
03 – Slaves Of Babylon
04 – Forged In Metal
05 – Chains Of Fury
06 – Evil Soul
07 -Path To The Unknown
08 – Master Of Pain
09 – Insanity
10 – The Inevitable End
– Samuel Nyman (Vocals)
– Henrik Stenroos (Guitars)
– Kenny Boufadene (Bass)
– André Holmqvist (Drums)