Album Review: The Chronicles of Manimal and Samara – Trust No Leaders

A week on from release, I’m finally getting the time to sit down and write some words on an album I’ve had my hands on for ages. Apologies to the band!

TCOMAS are a two-piece; Daphne Ang covers vocals, piano and keyboard while Andrea Papi also lends his vocal talents alongside electric guitar, bass, and programming. Their overall tone is hard rock, a bit prog, a lot of atmosphere. There are groovy sections, harsh vocals, head-nodders and absolute bangers. They’re not afraid to mix it up, and the number of styles being thrown around across the album make for quite the experience.

“Human Sacrifice” is a nice enough opener, and fairly middle-of-the-road as far as the band go. It’s a good introduction to them, not too challenging while still giving an idea of how eclectic they are. “The Prophet”, though, really starts to show their colours. Ang’s ethereal spoken words are buttressed by Papi’s occasional harsh interjections, the keyboards provide a very airy backing, and the bass rhythms will have your feet tapping. It’s with this song that you really get the feeling that the band are all about telling a story, getting a message across.

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This continues with the previously released “Pound of Flesh” which is more of a rock number with some great guitar work and a strong rhythm. Ang continues with her spoken word style which simply works. Spoken lyrics are often done very poorly – being stilted or overacted. Ang has nailed it with this – and other songs – coming over like a skilled poetry reading with great backing music.

“Shaman” features the first “duet” vocals, used sparingly in the chorus. It’s a slow, haunting number and the music ties in perfectly with the lyrics and theme. “Chefs Song” is a little more off-the-wall, be prepared for a bit of uncontrolled lunacy between both artists! Any song referring to “braised Boris Johnson” is going to prick up a few ears…

“Count The Dead” is pretty much the title track, given that it contains the lyric “Trust no leader”. This one also seems to be a bit of a dig at the recently-departed mop-topped fuckwit, talking as it does about “bodies piled high” and “ignoring the science”. It doesn’t take a great deal of thought to work out what the song is about.

Trust No Leaders is the kind of album you can pop on in the background for mood music. It’s quite relaxing in large parts, and very rhymical. Then you stop and listen to the lyrics to many of the songs and get rather angry. It works on so many levels – a soundscape, an angry political message, poetry… I’d argue that a purely instrumental version would be a good companion piece. Experimental, odd in places and an intelligent piece of work.

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Trust No Leaders is available to stream and download. Purchase as limited edition CDs via the band’s website.

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