Manilla Road – Mysterium

manilla road16 albums in to an ever impressive musical career and there are no signs of Manilla Road slowing or losing that prolific and creative spark. Mysterium is a mighty slab of epic heavy metal built once again soundly on the granite solid guitar work and riff sculpting foundation of Mark Shelton. The man is a machine and even though there is an aura of sameness that creeps into this album, when the formula already stands proudly unique in judgement of Manilla Road’s peers and followers, you get the impression that the confidence emitting from the core of this band empowers them and they could really care less. It is what it is and if it isn’t broken, why fix it? Correct. The Grey God Passes fires off Mysterium with a blunt attack where rounded power chords batter with the intent to bloody ones knuckles and demand attention. Stand Your Ground continues the hammering with the modern aggression that Manilla Road has been working with since the amazing Atlantis Rising. I like this heavier calling for this band, but I would be lying if I said I want an albums worth of material like this. To me, the soulful side of Manilla Road is where the true magic lies. Tracks like The Battle of Bonchester Bridge are slower paced and allow the mournful vocal lines of Mark and Bryan to slip in with passion and paint a bleak picture while those powerful and weeping solos moan in and really pile on the emotion. Hemitage continues with this mindset before the heaviness creeps back in for the center part of this album. The material remains mid-paced throughout and tracks like Hallowed Be Thy Grave may fall victim to an obvious chorus and vocal harmonies that stick with the verse riffs too closely, but when your drummer and guitarist are this good, you can fall back on those less adventurous musical phrases and allow for everyones personal talents to carry the line. When The Fountain hits with its beautiful acoustic instrumentation and classic raspy vocals, I was so ready for this strike of whimsical emotion. When it comes to Manilla Road, the acoustic tracks are always something great to behold and benefit older albums like Gates of Fire as well. Shelton has an amazing ear for this style of music and I really wouldn’t mind to hear even more of this style to creep in to Manilla Road’s core sound. The outcome is relaxing and world building for so much is being said and felt with so little. “Search till the end of all time if I must, I’ll never give up my beliefs. Carry the torch till my life turns to dust, I’ll never let go of my dreams.” So well said and it sounds like the perfect mantra for a career and band that has been carrying the torch through thick and thin when times were tough. Like the excellent cover art of a rider and his steed persevering through life and death, still searching for that “something”, or meaning of existence, Manilla Road have endured to enjoy a greatly deserved revival. It seems as though metal fans can finally “get” this band and I think it’s a beautiful thing that a unique entity such as this can share such a vast and amazing body of work with the old and new fans alike. So yes, murky production be damned! Get out there Mark Shelton and crew and do what it is you have done all your life. I for one am a dedicated fan and look forward to further getting to know Mysterium and as many other albums you wish to share with us, for we also are eager to help you carry that torch… -Marty
Shadow Kingdom Records

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~ by martyworm on February 13, 2013.

2 Responses to “Manilla Road – Mysterium”

  1. I was disappointed to see that there is no vinyl version of this album (yet I guess). Manilla Road sounds its very best on vinyl. I think I am going to wait. I think the production on this album is excellent. I love the warm fuzzy dirty aspect of it. Nice review!

  2. Still waiting for my copy to arrive… But I’ve been celebrating the new release last night; girlfriend was out for the night so I’ve put every MN album I have in a playlist and had it on shuffle all evening/night… LOUD! \m/

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