|Review: Manilla Road - Atlantis Rising|
Label: Iron Glory
Year released: 2001
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: March 12, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (42 Votes)
This one took me by surprise. Manilla Road are a weird kind of cult metal band from Kansas of all places. They’ve had a very long career going back to 1981, but I’m not really that familiar with their work. I’ve heard a song here and there and I’ve generally liked what I’ve heard. So when I heard good things about this CD I went ahead and got ahold of it.
I have rarely been so pleasantly surprised, "Atlantis Rising" is an excellent slab of crunchy, doomy old-school metal. It’s hard to really draw comparisons here. The songs are mostly epic, rumbling cuts with punchy riffs that get your head banging topped off with Mark Shelton’s varied and distinct vocals. He travels between deathy rasps on "Megaladon" to midrange crooning on "Sea Witch" or a more epic baritone rumble on "Atlantis Rising" or "Siege of Atland".
The sound is distinctly 80’s, with the production deliberately somewhat raw, not too clean. "Megaladon" starts off with hammering riffs and groovy basslines spearheaded with the harshest vocals on the CD, then the heavy attack quits and we get "Lemuria", a short acoustic song with haunting vocal lines and weirdly rumbling bass like undersea noises. The title track is next with a great pummeling riff and a cool chorus, segueing between hard and heavy with deep, brooding vocals and a smoother, crooning chorus, this is a quintessential Manilla Road song.
Next is "Sea Witch", which is another mostly acoustic number and my favorite track on the CD. "Sea Witch" is a haunting and beautiful song with a chorus that will stay with you. "Resurrection" and "Decimation" are similar tracks, both prototypical of this album’s sound: big, booming and epic. "Flight of the Ravens" is another brooding slow song with cool sound effects. Then "March of the Gods" kicks things up again with more thundering riffs. "Siege of Atland" and "War of the Gods" close things out in suitably epic fashion, with the sounds of waves finishing out the album.
This is a really cool CD, if I had one caveat, it would be that there isn’t as much variety in the second half of the album as in the first half, and the songs seem to kind of blend together. But even if some of the songs lack identity, they are still very, very good. (If you’re going to play the same song 3 times, make it a GOOD song.) The lyrics on this album are really good, spinning involved, possibly connected tales of Atlantis and Lemuria and warring gods at the dawn of time. Plus with the vocal delivery, you can usually make them out, which is always nice. (The way some death metallers grunt, you wonder why they have lyrics at all.)
If you are an old Manilla Road fan, this should make you smile, because it seems they haven’t changed their style from the old days. If you are new to them, as I was, you should still pick this up, as "Atlantis Rising" is a quality metal album. A classy effort from an old band back from oblivion, you can’t ask for more than that.
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