Completing 40 years on the road the lords of Epic Metal release their 18th album, "To Kill a King", following an incredible sequence of new albums, re-releases and shows around the world (and there's a documentary coming). Mark "The Shark" Shelton told me in an interview some time ago when I asked him to make a comparison between the 1980s and the current era of the band, which prefers the current one, since the band has never received so much attention now, Quantity of material released and the amount of shows, there is nothing to disagree with! (Versão em Português)
Released on June 30 by Golden Core Records/Zyx Music, "To Kill a King" features 10 tracks from Manilla's Epic Metal trade mark. Mark's riffs, solos and melodies. The vocals, since their return, shared with Bryan Patrick, and they have very similar ranges. But besides the traditional elements and Old-School, it has the current signature of the band, highlighting best productions and Neudi Neuderth's battery with his Rock / Progressive footprint, and now counting as partner the bassist Phil Ross (and has already played in all Songs from the new album, except in "In the Wake"), which replaced Joshua Castillo, having the first change of lineup since 2011.
The album was produced and mixed by Mark in his studio, and the mastering in Cornerstone Studio by Steve Falke, who has worked on recent albums of the band, then we have the same footprint, with that true and organic sound, and with very good quality , Which we also had in "Mysterium" and "The Blessed Curse". Team that is winning, better don't change it!
The songs? Ah, Epic Metal with great riffing work and Neudi's excellent job with his fills and breaks, now accompanied by the weight and technique of Phil Ross, which seems to have made the band's sound even more tangible. The 10 tracks alternate the Old-School footprint and sometimes more direct, with more elaborate nuances and techniques, and the epic sonority transits by now more progressive and melodious ways, sometimes more heavier and straight to the point.
The album opens with the title track, "To Kill a King", which with its more than 10 minutes, is one of those songs that the fans will want to hear live, a song that shows what is the Epic Metal that was born there in Wichita! In a half-tempo, an epic and striking riff already assault the music, which alternates between more acoustic passages (a discreet keyboard gives a neoclassical air), passing through almost progressive passages, highlighting the Neudi's great job in his kit, and Mark's melodious solos. Great song!
"The Conquerer" is more direct and faster, and what a punch! Needless to say that Mak's sharp riffs take over the land; "Never Again" is one of those epic ballads, more acoustic and melodious, with another beautiful performance by Neudi, a guy who deserves to be more recognized for the quality of his works; "The Arena" is another punch-laden piece, faster and with well-inserted breaks, heavy, very bass and aggressive rhytmic session, with drums punching the listener's chest. Bryan's vocal lines also alternate between the epic and aggressive.
Soon after, following this alternation between epic tracks and more "ballad" with faster and more aggressive, we have "In the Wake" (one of my favorites, togheter with the title track), which starts slower and melodious, we also have some keyboards in the background. The song grows, gaining weight and with another one of Mark's guitar journeys (I really liked the guitar timbres), duly accompanied by another excellent work by Neudi, with punch and technique; "The Talisman" is another with this raw and direct footprint, and Phil's bass stands out. The striking riff and the more husky vocals are another striking feature of it, along with the good alternation between fast and slow tempos.
In "The Other Side" the more melodious and epic mood returns, highlighting the acoustic and melodic passages, but of course, there are heavier and faster variations; "Castle of the Devil" stands out by the weight of riffs in pal-mute, has a more moderate but rather heavy tempo; "Ghost Warriors" is among my favorites on the album, with memorable riffs and captivating melodic lines, and "Blood Island" closes the record, and brings a faster tempo with punch and those characteristic epic riffs, a track well in the vein of Manilla Of the 80's, even more than Mark does all the vocals in this.
Mark Shelton's Manilla Road reaches the age of 40 and is going through a great moment, with a sequency of great albums, with a strong line-up, giving us an album that brings those traditional and Old School elements, but with a current sonority, bringing more worked variations and techniques, with the addition of better productions, but without ever losing the punch. Up the Hammers, and thanks a lot Manilla Road!
Text: Carlos Garcia
Band: Manilla Road
Album: "To Kill a King" 2017
Style: Heavy Metal, Epic Metal
Production and Mixing: Mark Shelton (Midgard Sound Labs)
Mastering: Cornerstone Studios
Label: Golden Core Records / ZYX Music
Press: CMM Consulting (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Manilla Road Official Site
Bryan Patrick: Vocals
Mark "The Shark" Shelton: Guitars and Vocals
Phil Ross: Bass
Neudi Neuderth: Drums and Percussion
E.C. Hellwell: Bass on "The Wake"
1. To Kill a King
3. Never Again
4. The Arena
5. In the Wake
6. The Talisman
7. The Other Side
8. Castle of the Devil
9. Ghost Warriors
10. Blood Island