STRATOVARIUS is one of the five power metal bands I respect through all those years. Although …
Manilla Road, the legendary epic heavy metallers from Wichita, Kansas have recently released their sixteenth full length album called “Mysterium”. Formed in 1977 with a gap between 1992 and 1994 where Mark Sheldon, the leader and mainman of Manilla Road, started a project called “The Circus Maximus” and released an album under the name Manilla Road in order to sell more copies.
The band has managed to establish a big fan core over the years and influenced the overall epic metal sound and even if they always were an “underground” act, I always admired their loyalty to their fans and heavy metal music, as they never compromised with occasional music fashions.
Coming to the new album, it is everything a heavy metal fan would ever want from a band like Manilla Road. Mixed and mastered by “Steve Falke” the new album sounds fair enough but I couldn’t say the same for the album cover that was created by “Alexander Von Wieding”, which i found too predictable and cheesy.
The album kicks in full guns blazing, with a U.S. heavy power metal song called “The Grey God Passes” with some riffs heavy enough to demolish everything in its way. Same goes for the second song called “Stand Your Ground” that continues the same way with first track but with an even faster tempo with an almost thrash way. Things slow down a little bit as “The Battle Of Bonchester Bridge” plays and “Hermitage” follows, an epic heavy metal tune as the previous song, with a Manilla Road trademark guitar solo.
Heavy metal battle rages on with songs like “Do What Thou Will”, “Only The Brave” and “Hallowed Be Thy Grave” which are also typical epic heavy power songs with the band’s characteristic sound. After a short break with a ballad called “The Fountain” and an instrumental song called “The Calling” that works like an intro to the last song with synthesizer played by E. C. Hellwell. Now, it’s time for the biggest song of the album, an almost eleven and a half minutes epic heavy metal opus, the title track “Mysterium”.
It is separated in three parts with the first part called “Sea Of Dreams” and is of kind of continuing with the same vibe as “The Calling”. Then, the second part called “The Quest” kicks in, where you can hear some of the heaviest parts of the album sprinkled with the band’s epic touch. As the song reaches to its end, the third and last part called “Into The Unknown” the tempo slows down gradually closing in the same way as it starts.
“Mysterium” is better that its predecessor, “Playground Of The Damned” which I found a little indifferent, both in sound as well as in compositions. It may not be Manilla Road’s best album but what the hell? It’s epic heavy metal!
|Track List||Line Up||01. The Grey God Passes
02. Stand Your Ground
03. The Battle Of Bonchester Bridge
05. Do What Thou Will
06. Only The Brave
07. Hallowed Be Thy Grave
08. The Fountain
09. The Calling (Instrumental)
|Mark Shelton – Guitars, Vocals
Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick – Vocals
Josh Castillo – Bass
Neudi – Drums