|Review: Manilla Road - Mystification|
Label: Sentinel Steel Records
Year released: 2000
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: July 4, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.53/5 (90.61%) (49 Votes)
Manilla Road are an acquired taste, and if you asked, I’d tell you Denis Gulbey gave it to me. I had heard a lot about this band, who are as obscure as can be, and always have been despite a very long career, but I had never heard them until I got one of Denis’ "True Metal Triumphant" sampler CDs which has two songs from this album on it. My first thought on hearing Manilla Road was a hearty "what the fuck?" as it was not at all what I was expecting.
For those who have never heard Manilla Road, describing their sound accurately can be hard. They play a very rootsy sort of heavy metal related to Blue Oyster Cult or early Sabbath, but nobody else really sounds like Manilla Road. "Mystification" was their seventh release, and their fifth full-length recording. My first thoughts on hearing this band were confusion, as the combination of the raw production, weird riffing, and Mark Shelton’s loopy solos and undersea vocals comprise one of the oddest and most unique sounds in metal. It takes a few listens to tune in to Manilla Road, but it’s well worth the effort, as this is some very cool music.
"Mystification" is almost entirely based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, though there are some other inspirations here (including "Children of the Night", based on a Robert E Howard story – and one of the album’s best tracks.) but for the most part this album is all about Poe with cool songs like "Haunted Palace", "Mystification" and the killer "Masque of the Red Death". This is a very solid album, with no one track standing out as the best (except maybe the title cut, my favorite song on here) and no filler cuts at all.
The production here is very raw, but if you read the liner notes detailing the album’s creation you will see why. This album was essentially resurrected by Denis at Sentinel Steel and given modern remix and a brand new package. After a few listens you don’t even notice the sometimes muddy sound.
The CD package is awesome, as with all Sentinel Steel releases. There is a new cover painting by Greg Hildebrandt, plus the old cover art on the back of the booklet, so you can turn it over and have the original cover if you want. There are band pics, extensive liner notes from Mark Shelton about the recording of the album, and all the lyrics, which are very cool. All CD packages should be this classy.
Manilla Road are a metal fan’s metal band, and it’s no wonder connoisseurs of heavy metal love this band. Not as accessible or instantly gratifying as some, this is an album that rewards repeated listens and just gets better every time.
Originally released in 1987
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