Thursday, April 2, 2015
Manilla Road Invasion Cult Metal Classics 2005 (Reissue)
If you mention the name Manilla Road to a random person in Kansas and probably this band's home city of Wichita, it's probably fair to assume less than 1% you talk to will have any idea who Manilla Road is. Mention the band's name in Power Metal circles and you're sure to get a number of opinions. Many of which would cite the band as one the finest examples in the genre.
However, before this gets all metal, this was Manilla Road's first release. It was originally released in 1980 on the band's own label, Roadster. This vinyl reissue was put out in Europe in 2005 on Cult Classics, but apparently there is an additional version that was released in 2004 on the label Iron Glory. Perhaps a situation in which Iron Glory has the CD reissue and didn't have interest in vinyl so passed it along to Cult Metal...either way, Cult Metal is a label in Greece and indicative of the band's primary fan base, power metal is apparently big in the European countries...that's the rumor, anyway.
But again, don't want to get too attached to metal. This release, Invasion, is heavy, but much more in line with proto-metal and progressive rock. The band came into their Power Metal years on the release Crystal Logic, which is few years later. While that era gets the most recognition, this is pretty great too. In Wichita, these guys were secluded, had no intention of fame or fortune, just clearly wanted to play LOUD music. It's dark, menacing and filled with guitars. The sound, at least on this version, the sound quality is pretty poor and comes across like it was recorded in a damp basement. Maybe it was or maybe it was just the limitations of the bands equipment.
One thing is clear, the group's primary Mark Shelton is brilliant. Nothing about this album carries any pretense...sure, maybe a band like Iron Maiden was knocking around all this fantasy lyric stuff at the same time, but c'mon, those guys still wanted to be "cool." Nothing about Manilla Road is trying to be cool. In fact, it seems as if they wanted the opposite. They'll play loud, fast, and sing about swords and death and if someone buys it, great, if not, they're still going to kick around their ideas.
Manilla Road The Dream Goes On