Impressive Swedish Heavy/Power Metal band Manimal may have a bit of a silly name, but there’s nothing particularly comical about the delivery of their particular blend of high energy, no-nonsense Metal. Not for them the symphonic noodlings of Sonata Arctica or Kamelot (though they clearly have the talent to make it happen if they wished), instead this, their 3rd full-length release, builds on their first two albums perfectly as they look to cement their place towards the head of their chosen genre.

As is starting to be a tradition with Manimal, the opener is a nod towards classic Judas Priest, blended naturally with Primal Fear and sets the scene for what is to come. Those bands are always in the mix somewhere as the band effortlessly blend Heavy, Speed, Power and Melodic Metal in Manimal’s own way. The riffs come thick and fast, the rhythm section is as tight and powerful as you could ever want and the vocals cover all aspects of the Metal spectrum.

The title track has elements of fellow Swedes Lost Horizon, a great similarity to have even if their short-lived career was unbelievably over 15 years ago now. There’s also a welcome feel of German Power/Speed Metal stalwarts Metalium about many of the tracks on “Pugatorio”, both vocally and musically. Manimal have a similar approach to Metalium, wherein each song is geared towards power and intensity, but always delivered with an ease that belies the utter professionalism that each band member possesses and contributes. The members of Manimal work so well as a unit, it’s the kind of feel you might expect from Metalium’s 7th album, rather than a band on just their third!

Just to round off any comparisons, I hear some Glenmore or Rawhead Rexx about ‘Traitor’ and some classic Brainstorm here and there too. Now OK, all those similarities might have a person thinking there is nothing original about Manimal, but the point is that this band blend all these slight nuances within their own style so well that really it’s a huge compliment to them that there are echoes of so many top class Metal bands within their sound. Many bands within this genre would be happy at being compared to just a couple of these acts, but all of them? Well, it’s bordering on just showing off! And why not I say…

Personal taste dictates that if I was being ultra-picky I prefer the bands speedier moments, but equally the plodding, punchy tracks like ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ give breathing space within an album proudly devoid of anything balladistic, and they are delivered with such heaviness that it still feels like there is no respite from the power. It goes without saying (though I’m going to say it anyway) that if you yearn for a high quality no nonsense Heavy Metal album full of Power Metal moments and hints of speed then it’s more than probable there will be little to challenge Manimal for you this year. Mock Manimal’s dodgy moniker as much as you like, but nothing can take away from a band delivering their third excellent slice of top notch Metal.

(8/10 Andy Barker)