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Review: Manilla Road - Gates of Fire
Manilla Road
Gates of Fire

Label: Battle Cry Records
Year released: 2005
Duration: 72:12
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: August 5, 2006
Reviewed by: Ulysses
Readers Rating
Gates of Fire

Rated 4.34/5 (86.82%) (44 Votes)

Manilla Road are a band that have been around since the late 1970s, pioneering the Epic Metal scene that many great bands have followed such as Battleroar and Ironsword, creating a rawer breed of Heavy Metal that is no doubt inspired by great fantasy authors (Robert E. Howard, Moorcock, and H.P. Lovecraft to name a few), mythology, and history. Gates of Fire is the latest offering of the classic U.S. band, and is one of the best in their incredibly consistent discography. The album is divided into three chapters, the first being "The Frost Giant's Daughters", which is based on the Conan tale in which he travels the land to follow a female. The second is "Out of the Ashes" which is another three songs on the fall of Troy and the rise of Rome. The final one, named after the title of the album is once again a trilogy of songs on the Persian king Xerxes' unsuccessful conquest of Greece (Stand of the Spartans) and also the Illiad.

I hope that could provide some information on the album to draw your interest into it, it's appropriate to say that the lyrical aspects of the album are just absolutely top-notch and interesting; some of the best Manilla Road has to offer. Musically, it's everything you can expect if you're familiar with the outstanding musicianship that's present in the Manilla Road discography. Complete with the unbelievably flexible riffs of Mark Shelton which provides the band with a vintage sound even if they've had a complete line-up change since their earlier works. Some things of note about Gates of Fire are that Mark Shelton has stepped down as his role for lead vocals, allowing Bryan (Hellroadie) Patrick to replace him. The Shark kicks in to accompany Hellroadie for the lower notes and the chorus. Also, that the production is rough (which is what's expected in a Manilla Road album) but the drums sound sometimes a bit thin. This isn't too much of a problem at all, mainly because Cory Christner can bust out some incredibly catchy drum beats. The rest of the band are all excellent musicians and all play to their full potential, making this truly one great album. Some things that people may not like is that the album is very long (clocking at 72 minutes!) and may get tiring for people who enjoy shorter lengths. It's fine with me, since I'm a big Epic Metal fan and long album times don't bother me. The other small thing people may not be comfortable with are The Shark's trademark nasal vocals, but they usually get used to it and end up loving it.

The album has many minor flaws that won't allow me to bestow that extra "+", but I truly do think this album has a concept that deserves it. If they focused on the production that made the drums a bit sketchy, I'm sure this would be one of the most classic albums released in the recent years.

Highlights: Riddle of Steel, The Fall of Illiam, Rome, Stand of the Spartans, and Epitaph to the King.

Highly Recommended!

Track Listing:

    Trilogy 1: The Frost Giant's Daughter

  1. Riddle Of Steel
  2. Behind The Veil
  3. When Giants Fall
  4. Trilogy 2: Out Of The Ashes

  5. The Fall Of Iliam
  6. Imperious Rise
  7. Rome
  8. Trilogy 3: Gates Of Fire

  9. Stand Of The Spartans
  10. Betrayal
  11. Epitaph Of The King
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