Released: 2009, AFM Records
Reviewer: Alan Gilkeson
My first reaction to the name 'Manimal' was a slight giggle. In America we remember Manimal as the name of a short lived corny TV show about a shape shifting scientist. They probably never saw it in Sweden so I'll give this group of melodic Metal rockers a pass. Still, I wonder what other third rate American television shows could become euro band names... Airwolf, Starman, Matlock. The possibilities are endless.
And another reason not to knock the name is a super tight record. In fact, I'm quite amazed that this thing was recorded independently before AFM quickly picked it up, a no-brainer of course to grab this thing already bought and paid for. It's self produced and done very well, though the bass gets buried a bit sometimes unnecessarily, overall everything sounds clear.
More importantly, there's quite a few epic sprawling tunes, full of what I call mis-direction, where a song starts one place, takes you everywhere, only to come right back home or explode in a crescendo of majestic melodies. A perfect example, "Spinegrinder" begins with a sort of Nu-Metal vocal effect, blends into a vocal centered verse, meshes into a crunchy chorus, and then a climatic ending. I love how it's sort of trendy yet it uses delicately aged Metal methods. There's other great tunes as well, "Dreamers and Fools" is reminiscent of Gamma Ray's anthemic choruses and "The Darkest Room" is a Prog- Metal masterpiece.
Hopefully THE DARKEST ROOM doesn't disappear into obscurity because it certainly has the chance to be the top Power Metal/Prog Metal release of the year and most definitely AFM's top disc.