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Review: Manilla Road - Playground of the Damned
Manilla Road
www.manillaroad.net
Playground of the Damned

Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 46:42
Tracks: 8
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: September 24, 2011
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
for:
Playground of the Damned

Rated 4.09/5 (81.88%) (64 Votes)
Review


There is just no way to rate this as anything but a minor work from Manilla Road. Their last few albums have been almost ridiculously epic, with the massive Gates of Fire and the crushing heaviness of Voyager I can see why Mark would want to get back to basics a little. Playground of the Damned is obviously supposed to hark back to older MR works like Open the Gates with a more acoustic, stripped-down production job and a departure from the long, rumbling epics of more recent works.

I can see where they were going with this, but a lot of it just doesn't work very well. The first two songs are almost completely disposable, and it's not until the chorus of the title track that we get anything really catchy, but then the song is hampered by flat riffs that don't really grip you. Things are generally improved on the second half of the album, with some stronger songs like "The Fire of Assurbanipal", but overall I find the songs on this too similar to one another, derivative of older MR songs, and just not very exciting.

The production also needs a note here, as it's the first thing you will notice. In a "what the hell is that supposed to be?' kind of way. The sound is very thin and flat, obviously an attempt to recall the sounds of old, but instead it just sounds weak, with mushy rhythm guitars and drums that sound almost literally like cardboard boxes. You can get used to it, and I would not really care if this album contained brilliant songwriting, but it doesn't.

This is adequate, but I know that MR are capable of way better than this. I laud their efforts to go for a more classic sound and style, but the songs just are not there this time, and this will not be an MR album I reach for when I am in the mood. A let-down.

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