Band: Manilla Road
Manilla Road’s sixth release, “Mystification,” definitely marks the band’s venture into more intense and aggressive sounding waters. The mix of classic metal style compositions with relentless thrash riffs allows the songs on this album to really standout. Main man Mark Shelton impresses with dark well crafted tracks that sound very haunting. The lyrical themes on, “Mystification,” reference plenty of classic horror tales and films to paint vivid imagery for the listeners to wrap their disturbed minds around. Manilla Road carefully constructs the lyrics to match up with the each song’s unique dark sound that perfectly captures the essence of haunting metal music. I must say, the musicianship on this album is consistently firing at all cylinders. Blistering lead guitar parts scream out with a raw old school tone that you just don’t hear anymore. The drums and bass construct solid rapid rhythms with certain moments of sinister sounding Sabbath like parts. For a three piece they sure do create plenty of huge sounding tracks that pack a powerful punch.
The album begins with a very simple fast paced classic metal sounding piece called, “Haunted Palace.” To accompany the aggressive driving music are some chilling vocals. Manilla Road does a solid job presenting the song while maintaining a tight sound. Not one note sounds out of place on the entire track. Track two, “Spirits of the Dead,” conveys a more doom like vibe, but still delivers the pure thrash aggression. There are a few other songs on this album that mix doom with thrash to offer up a true sinister sounding blend of music.
Track three, “Valley of Unrest,” begins with a wicked lightening fast riff. Out of the all the riffs on this album, I would say it was the one that made my head spin. Now, the title track is probably the most traditional sounding track on this album, and is just a well written song. I am drawn into this spooky sounding musical world that puts me into a dream like trance through the entire song.
Manilla road decides about half way through album to jump right back into the fire with the blazing track, “Masque of Red Death.” The song has a sharp unforgiving sound that reminds me a lot of early Slayer and Venom. Also, the raw production value strengthens the band’s evil sounding delivery. The following song, “Up from the Crypt,” continues the more thrash based sound with a chaotic presentation. Strings scream out in anguish when bent and the shredding is just out of this world. This is probably the first song where the guitarist just took off into complete shredding madness and didn’t look back. “Children of the Night” sounds a bit like the two previous tracks with the more thrash based sound and it begins to get repetitive in certain parts.
The final two tracks “Dragon Night” and “Death by the Hammer” return to a more balanced classic metal style meets pure old school thrash style. I really like the overall doom filled sound on, “Dragon Night,” and it is another well written metal track. “Death By the Hammer,” takes on certain qualities of Diamond Head’s sound, especially that aggressive galloping sound.
Overall Manilla Road finds a way to really leave their own creative metal musical mark with, “Mystification.” I think this is a solid release that conveys the sinister blend of classic metal meets thrash. This album is being released via Shadow Kingdom Records, and features the original mastering, recording and song order. Glad to see Shadow Kingdom digging up a haunting release and giving fans a chance to here the raw original sound created by the one and only Manilla Road.