Album review: MANIMAL – Armageddon

AFM Records [Release date 3.12.21]

Armageddon is Swedish Power Metal band, Manimal’s 6th release.

What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in bravado and sheer power, with the rough edges sanded down by a bunch of resilient, tough as teak melodies, each a robust construction, designer built to withstand the band’s thumping Nintendocore axework.

Songwriter/ Guitarist Henrik Stenroos’s technique, tone, invention and his iron fist/ velvet glove guitar aggression are the hallmarks of a world class power metal axeman. He stands out, but in fairness, it’s a tight, tight band.

The title track, ‘Armageddon’, was released last month as a trailblazing single, with an accompanying video that was heavy on the images of global warfare.

The message needed no interpretation.

As the music unfolds you can see it’s got loads of energy and ideas. It sounds big, it’s smart . . . it goes for the jugular just when your attention might be about to drop.

The subtlety we thought was absent reveals itself through the band’s punchy, hight pitched vocals, most notably harmonising with the guitars on ‘Chains Of Fury’ and ‘Insanity’, creating the openness and grandeur that we expect from one of the genre’s leading practicioners.

As with other upmarket Metal bands, they know when to hold power in reserve, and when to blow the damn…. ‘Forged In Metal’ and ‘Burn In Hell’ show us this, both ultimately crash and burn, yet the music rises again for the next track.

The fabulously inventive standout cuts, ‘Slaves Of Babylon’ and ‘The Inevitable End’ create calculated psychological soundscapes. Both are memorably melodic slices of metal, dramatically whispering and lurching into the dark, with sparks flying from Stenroos’s fiery axework. And when Samuel Nyman’s skyscraping vocal launches into each song’s lightning bolt of a chorus, the music takes flight. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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