Firebox scooped up MANITOU from the ashes of Rage Of Achilles, for the Finnish Doom specialists a pretty unusual style, because the band that picked its name from the native Indian deity plays a mix of Melodic Metal and Progressive Metal, putting the emphasis on melodies and intricate arrangements instead of heaviness or melancholy. But despite only delivering their debut, MANITOU are anything but greenhorns, the probably best known member is Markus Vanhala and originally plays with the Melodic Deathers of OMNIUM GATHERUM. Now “The Mad Moon Rising“ is not a new album, but the re-issue of the 2004 Rage Of Achilles debut, which unfortunately had gone down with the label.
After “The Mad Moon Rising“ (the title track) starts the album out relatively calm and super melodic and does a damn good job with it, the following “Drifting Shadows“ cranks the Prog screw, because the rhythm is getting quite a bit more complex, but without losing any of the catchiness and the guitars, too, take a big step forward and take over the sceptre. Here MANITOU reveal a lot of potential, which they also process into very mature compositions, because they manage to put everything into an excellent balance of demand and accessibility, heralding a great future for MANITOU.
"Machine Mind“ is a great example fort his, as it covers the spectrum from intricate and calm to straight and fast in a very dynamic and cohesive way, so you can in fact talk about a little masterpiece! Besides the guitar work of the duo Vanhala/Antti Laurén I have to point out the great voice of KAIHORO singer Markku Pihjala, which is powerful and not too high, very well conveying the different moods of the songs, which is proved by the dark “Blind Eye Open”, where he masters smooth and melodic as well as more aggressive, yet another gemstone! How variable the Finns are is shown by “Wish I Could Sleep“, which is a lot faster and straighter, always keeping up the technical class, though, great! And “Ancestral Territories”… Aaaah! On top of that we get three bonus tracks, among them the Bruce Dickinson cover version “Laughing In The Hiding Bush“ and the more than ten-minute epos “Brother’s Promise“, which continue the quality of the regular songs!
As far as the lyrics go, two things stand out: For one the very critical and serious topics, which make reading along very interesting and on the other side also a few partly pretty cracking grammatical errors, but still the lyrics are very recommendable! For the music three bands come to mind: VANDEN PLAS, PAGANS MIND and SAGITTARIUS, at least to my ears a damn appealing mix, which is realised by MANITOU.
“The Mad Moon Rising“ might not be a revelation yet, but is a damn good debut, which I can only fully recommend and builds quite some hopes for MANITOU! (Online October 16, 2005)