MANILLA ROAD – Mysterium
The mighty thunder from Kansas known as Manilla Road returns to the scene with their latest studio album "Mysterium". German drummer Neudi is well known in independent metal circles for his work in Viron, Roxxcalibur, and performing with Savage Grace, Griffin, and Jameson Raid among others- and he takes over the drum throne , joined by bassist Joshua Castillo, vocalist/ guitarist Mark Shelton and vocalist Bryan Patrick. At this point in their career, the quartet does not need to prove their importance to the metal community- and as such, the 10 tracks on "Mysterium" traverse all facets of their long, historic trail up the epic heavy metal mountain.
You’ll get doomier, slightly above mid-tempo material like "Hermitage" where Neudi’s crash cymbal accents and Mark’s tasteful lead breaks envelop your ears with this majestic, hypnotic presence as well as speedier, headbanging crushers like "Stand Your Ground" and "Only the Brave"- proving you don’t have to be young to ramp up the pacing and get your adrenaline rush. "Do What Thou Will" possesses this instantaneous gloom riff with equally melancholic vocal delivery, sending chills and cheers through my body as I can see this becoming a permanent fixture in the Manilla Road live set list. "The Fountain" harkens back to Jethro Tull days, an acoustic number with mature story telling- and the 11:45 title cut that ends the record features all the explosive contrasts of quietness, heaviness, and semi-progressive interplay you expect in a Manilla Road epic arrangement.
I’ve read many thoughts about the dip into the 80’s past for Manilla Road for this release. What matters to me most is exciting riffs, thoughtful construction, and a top to bottom record that I’ll want to play for ages. "Mysterium" meets all this criteria. If you’ve never taken in this band, this record is an excellent gateway effort. Horns in the air!