(8/10) The undergound is alive. Bands like Manilla Road prove that you're never too old for metal. And they also show us, that metal music is passion and dedictation, more than the big money and endless success.

The band, founded in 1977, was always for insiders and gained a real cult status over time. A lot of fans have heard about them and maybe even heard them, but they never got the attention they actually deserve. But things changed a bit over the last two years. Manilla Road was on a two years world tour, playing gigs in Europe and South America, plus several festivals. And also some of the older Manilla Road record have been re-released, what brought extra attention.

But besides all this the band from Kansas worked also on a new studio album. "The blessed curse" is the name of the new longplayer that will be release mid February. And as we could expect, the band sticks to their roots, which means epic power metal with really heavy moments as well as emotional ballads.

The story that builds the base for the album is going back to the times of the Sumerian and puts a real questionmark behind Christian religion. Mark Shelton, frontman and founder of the band, dived deep into the content and created this interesting 'storybook'.

Some of the songs are the more heavy ones, like the title track. But even here the acoustic parts adds another layer to the track. "Truth in the ash" is a heavy pounding oldschool metal track too that is a real headbanger. The same goes for "Reign of dreams". With this brutal riff we can talk about very wild dreams. Love it. 

The more silent side of Manilla Road is reflected by the touching acoustic "Tomes of clay" - a song that spreads an underlaying sadness and comes with an oriental guitar part. But also "Falling" and "The muses kiss" are brillant acoustic songs that catches you as a listener.  
This mix makes the music of Manilla Road so diverse and entertaining and there is no single filler on "The blessed curse". 

Small downer with the album is the sound. It is very oldschool, to say it nicely. I appreciate a lot that bands like Manilla Road never release over-produced albums. It wouldn't fit to them. But a bit of a better sound would have been good. Sometimes it's a bit of a dull sound that comes along undifferenciated. The band and the songs would have deserved more effort and a better result here.

Next to "The blessed curse" there is also a second CD being part of the package. "After all muse" is an interesting, six tracks long, add-on that reflects very much the more silent side of the band. Next to some acoustic songs, all of them pretty good, there is a real highlight captured on this CD. During the the re-release sessions drummer Neudi discovered a song called "All hallow's eve" that was recorded in the beginning of the 80's in the rehearsal room. Unfortunaltely the track ended after 12 minutes since there was no tape left anymore (yes, yes - the analog times). So, what to do in such a situation? Manilla Road put two version of this pearl on the album. The first on is the original from the rehearsal room and the sound already states, that it is an almost 'antique' sound document, but they also re-recorded the track and added three more minutes to it. The tune is an excellent Manilla Road track that combines all the trademarks of the four-piece in one song. The cherry on the cake is the fact, that original drummer Rick Fisher joined for taping this song, which makes it even more special.

"The blessed curse" is a great new Manilla Road album and with a good production it would be eaily an '8'. But so it's a very good '7' and the hope that the guys will entertain us many more years with their music.





"The blessed curse"

  1. The blessed curse
  2. Truth in the ash
  3. Tomes of clay
  4. The dead still speak
  5. Falling
  6. Kings of invention
  7. Reign of dreams
  8. Luxifera's light
  9. Sword of hate
  10. The muses kiss

"After the muse"

  1. After the muse
  2. Life goes on
  3. All hallows eve 1981 Rehearsal)
  4. In search of the lost chord
  5. Reach
  6. All hallows eve 2014


Label: Golden Core

Genre: Heavy Metal

CD review MANILLA ROAD "The blessed curse / After the muse"
Tag(s) : #Manilla Road, #Heavy Metal, #Doom Metal, #Epic Metal, #CD Review, #News, #Power Metal