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Review: Hellwell - Beyond the Boundaries of Sin
Beyond the Boundaries of Sin

Label: High Roller Records
Year released: 2012
Duration: 47:12
Tracks: 7
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: June 5, 2012
Reviewed by: MetalMike
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Rated 4.47/5 (89.41%) (17 Votes)

The discography of Manilla Road is one of the more confusing in Heavy Metal, what with the Mark Shelton solo album that was released with the Road name (Circus Maximus), the early album that was never meant to be released, but showed up as Mark of the Beast and the various releases and re-releases of most of the "official" albums. Beyond the Boundaries of Sin, by the band Hellwell (named for keyboardist and writer E.C. Hellwell), will undoubtedly add to the confusion since it features The Shark himself handling the guitars and almost all the vocals.

Regardless of the name, any album with Mark Shelton singing and playing guitar is a reason to celebrate and Beyond the Boundaries of Sin is simply fantastic. The first thing long-time Manilla Road fans will notice, beyond Shelton's distinctive vocals and classic, over-driven guitar, are the keyboards. Fear not, though, these aren't the happy, tinkling keyboards of today's Power Metal and Symphonic bands. Think of the dirtiest, heaviest, most evil Hammond organ sound of Deep Purple or Black Sabbath and you start to get an idea of what Mr. Hellwell is bringing to the party. Shelton's riffs are vicious and propulsive. The songs on the first half of the album are independent compositions but those on the second half are based on a Lovecraftian-style story by E.C. Hellwell. "The Heart of Ahriman" will have you thinking of the best stuff from Crystal Logic with its catchy chorus while the epic, nearly 14 minute closer "End of Days" reminds me of Spiral Castle.

Beyond the Boundaries of Sin isn't perfect, most notably the thin production, but the complaints are few and far between. I may be relatively new to Manilla Road and by no means an authority on the highs and lows of their discography, but I can tell you that any album, under any name, that features Mark Shelton's vocals and guitars is a good thing in my book. Hellwell seamlessly melds the old with the new and has created an album that is downright kick ass. Recommended.

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