The Chronicles of Manimal and Samara (TCOMAS) announced on March 19th, 2022 (in England,UK) that they would be dropping their sophomore album on July 1st, 2022 titled “Trust No Leaders”. Hailed as the ‘pioneers of a new form of expression’ with their poetic performances, TCOMAS is a UK-based duo made composed of Daphne Ang (Singapore) and Andrea Papi (Italy). Since their establishment in 2020, the pair have steadily garnered a reputation for their musical and lyrical reconfiguration.
Their debut album, “Full Spectrum” was released on February 21st, 2022 and filled musical gaps with literary readings, poetic displays, and history, fusing rock and metal with theatrical performance. Following such a release, the duo began to record “Trust No Leaders” between April and August 2021 at their studio in Camden Town.
Stretching 39-minutes in length over 11 tracks, this album is a journey through Heavy Metal history that touches on a cleansing expression brought on by the global crisis that expresses a more aggressive side of the band.
Commenting on the motivation behind Trust No Leaders, the duo share:
“The current crisis and the events of our time have made it necessary for us to
analyse, investigate, and expose the issues in urgent need of systemic change by
looking inwards into the human condition. We wanted the album to be a beacon
of hope for making a future that prioritizes people and the environment.”
Daphne: “Trust No Leaders is not about politics. It’s not about who or what is right or
wrong. It transcends colour and creed. It is about what it means to be human. It is about
knowing and asserting your place in this world, and the importance of being aware of what
is going on in the world we live in, to open one’s eyes and see. But above all, the need to be
conscious of your inner world.”
The album is a convergence of instruments and influences stretching from non-western folk and classical musical traditions including Native American and South American folk music, Vedic chanting, and Indo-Persian classical music. The lyrical forms and vocal expression bring together elements from modern-day poetry, to Persian Classical poetry, theology, Jungian Psychology, and contemporary theater.
Andrea: “We revisited the roots of metal, and drew inspiration from music from the past and
present, east and west. But we really moved forward to create something new with this
album. This change forward is in the importance we place on our lyrics and the clarity of
words. The message of a song is what makes music meaningful. Music without a message,
is like a person without a soul.”
Our introductory track comes in the form of “Human Sacrifice” – a track that provokes the memories of old through eerie lyrical chants that touch on the societal pushes throughout our lives. “Procreation. Population. Obligation. God and nation.” Lyrics that are strikingly relevant to the regression that the US is facing with their backwards thinking and historical destruction. The fading music only allows for the lyrics to sink further into your mind, re-instating the relevance of their haunting and all too familiar nature.
The follow-up is ” The Prophet” – one of my favourites from the album. Daphne’s narration is hauntingly beautiful and expressive. Andrea commits to a heavy foundation of dangerous riffs and solid bass that continuously pulls us beneath the waves of power that is put forth in this song. “And you shall see me stand. Glorious and free. Gloriously free.” It’s got apocalyptic undertones that becoming much more thrilling, and frightening as Daphne continues the lyrical exposure with lines such as “feel and touch my legs and thighs. I am watching you with open eyes.” It’s a short track that holds complexity and depth, yet another from TCOMAS‘ brilliance that leaves you deep in thought without any attempt to layer too much, too quickly. A perfect example of how simplicity can still thicken complex expression.
“Pound of Flesh” comes in with striking flutes, bellowing from deep below before allowing Andrea to drop in with his own form of powerful expression. The harsh growls at the beginning are a change of pace from the second track that lead into lyrics that once again settle on the air like a heavy, humid fog in the early morning hours. “Tell me, which was colder. The blade or my bare hands” is a striking line that is strong and thought-provoking, easily jumping into chorus lines “wretched, are the hearts of men,” that will hold solid ground for years to come. A ‘pound of flesh’ is something owed that must be repaid by any means necessary – revenge. The narration of this track flows well with the dark melody that accompanies, bringing vivid exposure to “wretched, are those who make martyrs of evil men,” as if to slay such wickedness, is to only make a martyr of those undeserving of any recognition with our protagonist seemingly conflicted by whether their actions were better left to the Gods.
Tracks like “Shaman” and “The Chefs Song” embrace wonder and realization with their own lyrical prowess. “Shaman” eludes us to a place far from reality, somewhere to venture at the end of the world to exposed to worlds beyond world, and a soul not of rebirth but of wholeness. Utilizing folk melody and traditional harmony, this track is expansive and deep in both its musical composition and lyrical dynamic. The latter, which I’d reviewed on Metal Goddesses earlier this year, speaks volumes to those with experience in the Hospitality industry and offers a light-hearted chuckle, and eye-roll all the same.
As we journey alongside TCOMAS through this album, we come to a track called “Nothing But Dust” that brings forth a light harmony, yet deepened with shadow. “I smell the death of hope in the air. Heavy is the air. In my solitude and silence. I find my soul a lonely desert.” Such lines provoke depth through a simple gaze. This song attaches itself to modern man’s search to enrich his soul. It touches on the ancient ritual to traverse the desert in search of inner truth and enlightenment touching on Arabian influences, and offers a nod to the semantics and poetry of a Persian Mystic.
Once again, TCOMAS offers up an insightful exploration through their own Music Video, debuting more than 3 months back, that touches on our lust for the material world, and how quickly it can slink through our fingers like grains of sand.
“Count The Dead” is an ode to the Governments who failed to act, and protect their people from harm. It calls to action a protest against world leaders whose negligence, and recklessness have resulted in one of the largest ‘avoidable’ losses of lives faced by any generation. This track is ferocious, fueled by aggression against the leaders who chose to gamble with our lives and value their wealth and normalcy over our health and safety.
Striking lines such as “the great divide, priority to the rich, the poor die like flies,” echoes through generations, identifying with both young and old to hit us at our very cores. Despite Daphne’s calm narration, the hollowness offers a sense of viciousness to the lyrics that span over the seemingly emotionless melody. It’s a perfect match, echoing the government’s lack of action before sinking into fury over a parade of cold riffs and heavy drums.
“Follow no leader. But leave no one behind…”
As we come into the closing of the album, we are met by the “Smell of Your Rot” – a track that leads us int with classical exposition as if to put forth a foray of floral cover and perfumed lies across a scene of melancholy and plague. This song is lyrically deep and beautiful, with imaginative lines like “your morphed yourself into white lands of alpenglow, sunlight and moonlight,” that allow for creative imagery to paint widened eyes with its lifelike brilliance.
The orchestrations that compliment the heaviness in this track’s melody provide both beautiful company and striking contrast to the visuals created in an almost muted, yellow palette. Like a film, newly painted in pastels as a jump from the Black and White, this track is mesmerizing in its unnatural ability to pull elegance from the detail of a rotting shell.
The final track is titled, “Scum of the Land” – a nod to the greedy and selfish who take more than they need in their attempt to rise to the top. “From prince to prophet. Politician to preacher. From every pinnacle of power. Every enterprise. Empire.” The wordplay on this track is delicately complimented by the harsh melody of high riffs at its back, only sharpening the words and their impact.
“Rise to the top – scum of the land,” echoes flawlessly alongside the narration of lines like “Mankind slain by his own ambition, and progress. His nations and cities will crumble.” A call to those who climb over others for selfish gain, to remember where they will stand when “dust returns to earth”. The cruelty in the harsh vocals, balanced with the delicate yet sharp narrated lines, provides wholeness to an ending track that is all too fitting for an album that instructs us, quite thoroughly, to “Trust no Leaders”.
In whole, I simply cannot get enough of TCOMAS and their works. The lyrics of each track hold their own complexities, while often being vocalized in simple execution. From tracks like “The Chefs Song” to the more descriptive “Smell of Your Rot” there are messages both layered deep and floating along the surface. It’s an album that’s meant to both provoke thought, and revolution yet, can still be enjoyed in calm nature. However, to deny the importance of each track and its message is to deny what TCOMAS stand for both theatrically and expressively.
Bringing in a new form of expression, The Chronicles of Manimal and Samara have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear in their musical journey of passion, freedom, and fight.
You can order your own copy of “Trust No Leaders” via the link here.
Favourite tracks: The Prophet, The Chefs Song, Count the Dead, Scum of the Land