Genre: Epic/Heavy Metal
Label: Golden Core Records
Manilla Road is the answer to those who want to know what is true, cult or obscure and they are also the synonym for the word epic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that looking through the, including the newest, eighteen studio albums of the Americans from Kansas, you are in fact looking through the history of American underground heavy metal. Celebrating the forty years of the band’s existence as they should, namely on the road, but they still haven’t granted our beloved Mark Shelton the needed wisdom. That’s because he is a hopeless romantic and beautifully stubborn to release an album so soon, just to coincide the 40 year anniversary of the band. Especially since he also released the quite good second record of Hellwell this year. Inevitably, the Shelton’s inspiration can’t reach the standards we are used to by him. Almost tired as a composer, he is also vocally flat and sounds a bit rusty. That doesn’t keep him from handing over some of the best 70’s riffs and solos scattered around the whole record. Even if the compositions doesn’t sound bad at all one by one, despite the good moments lying in the songs, they lack the coherence and as a whole the result is not that solid. The ambitious self titled track of the record summarizes all you can hear on “To Kill A King”. Serious lyrics inspired from Shakespeare’s Hamlet but rather a simple track for such a “heavy” subject. The riffs and solos are amazing, even though they stretch the song without helping its flow. The whole record moves accordingly and it seems to have been poorly written, trying to squeeze in all the ideas he had in its songs. The vocals of Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick are about the same as Shelton’s and they ought to stop existing or replace Mark the Shark… But believe me, as “To Kill A King” plays, it’s interesting to listen to. It might have been less weak if it was shorter, as the duration goes over an hour. Sadly, it is tiring for the listener to get through the whole record, especially more than one time. For the fans, go ahead and listen -but I would prefer something stronger from Manilla for sure- but I am afraid it won’t come back to your vinyl player many times.