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Manilla Road - Mystification (Reissue) Award winner

Manilla Road
Mystification (Reissue)
by Daniel Fox at 20 March 2014, 6:09 PM

MANILLA ROAD is a name that Metalheads need to hear, and their music is something that a Metalhead needs to experience at least once in their live, for better or worse. Embroiling myself in their back catalogue was/is a lengthy process for me; some of it I enjoyed instantly, some has taken me and will take me, a while to get used to; an acquired taste, if you will. But you cannot deny, that their albums came from a creative mind. Historically, they propelled Heavy Metal to never-before-seen heights, and became known as the pioneers of Epic Metal; to this date, they are still going strong, Mark Shelton an indomitable purveyor of metallic spirit. A classic release, the reissue of 1987's "Mystification" admittedly posed as my first listen to said album.

"Haunted Palace" quickly began to cement my liking for this album. A few years down track from their milestone "Crystal Logic", in general I feel the album to be much more enjoyable; Shelton's vocals much more powerful, commanding and less nasal. It churns with epic riffs and arrangements and soaring melodic structures, and deliciously expressive solos. "Valley of Unrest" sees some creative rhythmic use in its riffs, melding sounds from the realms of Thrash, Groove and even IRON MAIDEN and once again proves the band's innate ability at story-telling.

The title track is a broad and mid-tempo composition with wide-spanning, guitar-driven atmospheres, overlaid with Mark's pure vocal delivery, and recognizably perfect lyrical diction; heavy and poetic, the way the classics should be. "Death by Hammer" quickly became a favorite of mine with its ominous and 'slithering' intro riffs that progressed into a steamrolling and upbeat verse. Mark displays a surprisingly diverse vocal repertoire, showing obviously capabilities of aggressive delivery.

To me, they're one of those bands where you will never stop finding unheard music; every next track seems fresh and new, regardless of whether or not you have forgotten about previously hearing it. Re-listenable – that is a trait that only some metal bands meet, and even then is it rarely consistent. May the recording quality of this album put some off? Indeed, it may. But what is classic Heavy Metal without a rough finish?

4 Star Rating

1. Haunted Palace
2. Spirits of the Dead
3. Valley of Unrest
4. Mystification
5. Masque of the Red Death
6. Up from the Crypt
7. Children of the Night
8. Dragon Night
9. Death by the Hammer
Mark Shelton – Vocals, Guitars
Randy Foxe – Drums Keyboards, Vocals (1987)
Scott Park – Bass (1987)
Record Label: Shadow Kingdom Records


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