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Manilla Road - Mysterium

Manilla Road
by Vasilis Odontidis at 25 March 2013, 9:21 AM

I can’t forget the awe that I felt when I heard for the first time in the radio the song “Necropolis” by MANILLA ROAD more than fifteen years ago and I have felt in love with their guitar driven epic sound. The Americans were never a first act band, however they enjoy a small yet dedicated core of fans and the fact is that all those years they were releasing quality records. Now, I got in my hands the sixteenth studio release of the epic Metallers lead by guitarist / vocalist Mark Shelton, “Mysterium”.

As with their latest releases (after 2001) the band has utilized a heavy raw approach, but still based on a bombarding of riffs one after another. On their latest releases, Mark Shelton is playing the guitar and is handling the most of the vocals except for the high pitched ones who are handled by Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick. “Mysterium” has ten tracks most of them between four and six minutes with the exception of the homonymous track which has an epic duration of ten minutes.

From the beginning of “The Grey God Passes” when the drum roll leads into heavy as fuck riffage the listener will immediately feel like home, knowing that this is another pure raw MANILLA ROAD record. The tunes come with rage and fury and for the first seven tracks there is monstrous overload of epic Heavy Metal. Songs like “Stand your Ground”, “Hermitage” or “Hallowed Be Thy Grave” are perfect representatives of the music of MANILLA ROAD and stand amongst the best of the record. “The Fountain” is the only ballad in the record, but it nothing really extraordinary (I am not sure if I could call “The Battle of Bonchester Bridge” a ballad). The record ends with the epic tune “Mysterium”, which has as an intro the instrumental “The Calling”, random a mix of ambient sounds that supposingly creates the analogous mystery (or just skip) to bump into the final song. “Mysterium” slowly builds from an acoustic riff to heavy guitars and merciless riffing and fades again into some haunting arpeggios and leads.

The band appears in top shape, and the compositions and guitar playing of Mark Shelton is exceptional once again. The band is retaining its epic style but the songs have a thrash flavor at some times and others it is just Heavy Metal straight into the face. The characteristic vocals handled by him and “Hellroadie” are faithful to the MANILLA ROAD tradition. Rhythm section newcomers Neudi (Andreas Neuderth) and Josh Castillo provide the needed infrastructure for the songs to build on. “Mysterium” is a record that keeps up to the standards of MANILLA ROAD and it will definitely satisfy its faithful fans. The band manages to sound fresh, especially with the raw and crisp production and they manage to maintain their characteristic sound. On the other hand there are parts in the compositions that are kind of dull and they affect the overall image. For the end I left the cover which is amazing with the grey raider and the horse with those red evil eyes. In the end “Mysterium” is that piece of great music by the legendary Mark Shelton that we all crave to listen to get our epic Metal overdose.

3 Star Rating

1. The Grey God Passes
2. Stand Your Ground
3. The Battle of Bonchester Bridge
4. Hermitage
5. Do What Thou Will
6. Only the Brave
7. Hallowed Be Thy Grave
8. The Fountain
9. The Calling
10. Mysterium
Mark Shelton - Guitars, Vocals
Neudi - Drums
Josh Castillo - Bass
Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick – Vocals
Record Label: Shadow Kingdom Records


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