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Manilla Road – Spiral Castle Award winner

Manilla Road
Spiral Castle
by Will Travers at 07 June 2021, 10:27 PM

MANILLA ROAD have a long a fruitful history, spanning almost 44 years. That in its self is something to be massively proud, especially given the large amounts of support and praise given to them over time. The Power Metal powerhouse has delivered time and again with strong releases that are still echoing today. So, why are we here? Well, MANILLA ROAD are undergoing the ‘ultimate reissue’ of some of their back catalogue and I have here before me “Spiral Castle”, so before I ramble on much further on the minutiae, lets get stuck in.

The album opens with “Gateway To The Sphere”, instantly the silky sultry instrumental has grabbed my attention. A strong and steadfast main walking melody drives this forward, with the delightful epic backing just adding a depth and taking this from a run of the mill introduction and making it into something quite delectable. If this is a sign of what is to come, then colour me impressed! The titular track, “Spiral Castle” comes launching into view, with powerful, attacking riffs and an intense atmosphere. The vocals flit from light and pseudo mystical into the harsh growls that really adds a layer that I would never have thought was missing had I not heard it.

“Shadow” is a shorter, more intense track, in fact excluding the opening track, it is the shortest track on the album. That is quite the statement if you consider it sits at four and a half minutes long. The album is breaking the conventions of what I would consider to be ‘normal’ Power Metal, and it makes for a fantastic listen. “Seven Trumpets” is another ‘short and sweet’ track (at five and half minutes!). I assumed from the title that it would be something of a heralding track, almost as though it were announcing the arrival of our hero in a fantasy saga, and on that assumption it certainly did not disappoint.

“Merchants Of Death” is quite the slog of a track, at over ten minutes it was an intense listen for sure. I’m not the biggest fan of massively long tracks but this was more of a journey than just a sit down and listen. “Born Upon The Soul” and “Sands Of Time” might be two separate tracks, but they blend together almost seamlessly into a mystical and fantastic ending to the album.

Overall, this is a fantastic album and one of the best examples of Power Metal that I have come across. The structure of the album allows it flow seamlessly, the additions of strings and synths to sections really give an extra dimension to it all. And the guitar playing… Honestly, words cannot describe it, well my partner tried, she used the word ‘soothing’ which I found fairly apt. But this has been an utter delight to listen to and review.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gateway To The Sphere
2. Spiral Castle
3. Shadow
4. Seven Trumpets
5.Throne Of Lies (Bonus Track)
6. Merchants Of Death
7. Born Upon The Soul
8. Sands Of Time
Lineup:
Bryan Patrick – Vocals
Mark Shelton – Guitar / Vocals
Mark Anderson – Bass
Scott Peters – Drums
Record Label: High Roller Records
     


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