Friday, May 2, 2014

"Mystification" by Manilla Road

This is a classic edition of Glacially Musical. Shadow Kingdom Records is re-releasing (again) the sixth album by Manilla Road, the most metal band ever to come out of Wichita, KS.

This is my first experience with this band. The trio was started by Mark "The Shark" Shelton in 1977 while he was still in high school. They would go on to record nine albums before going on hiatus in 1990.

"Mystification" is their sixth album in a very impressive catalog of music that has been recorded in both incarnations of the band.

Am I the only one who can't help but think of those brown papers from elementary school? Manilla paper? Seriously though, this album is a classic record for a band that deserves more renown than they have.

Metal guys on a metal cliff.
This record begins with thundering drums kicking off the first track and the drumming was a theme that was interwoven throughout the entire record.

Instead of just holding the time, the drums are the most nuanced instrument on this record. During instrumental breaks, the drums often take the lead in the middles offering something very unique.

The vocals strike me as somewhere between a baritone Rob Halford and standard Bruce Dickinson, when he's trying to sound creepy. Shelton's vocals are nuanced without sounding forced. He uses rising and falling vocal runs expertly.

Shelton's guitar work isn't what I normally hope for with a thrash/power/whatever metal band, but actually the drums do make up for the missing thickness.

The solos have the glassy tone of 80's  underground metal. They sound so sharp that I would be scared to touch the strings lest my hands come back bloody. The entire album has that timbre that so many bands ran away from at the time, but has become a classic sound to me. Think of Metallica's Kill'Em All and Kirk's solos from the early videos on Cliff'Em All.

The great thing about albums is that you can look back in time and hear what the age sounded like. Check out this Edgar Allen Poe inspired disc of metal.

Release: 4/29/14 (Originally 1987)
Genre: Metal
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Run time: 43:02
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1) Haunted Palace
2) Spirits of the Dead
3) Valley of Unrest
4) Mystification
5) Masque of the Red Death
6) Up From the Crypt
7) Children of the Night
8) Dragon Night
9) Death by the Hammer

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