Review Summary: Metal is a definite improvement over everything that was wrong with Invasion, but it still has some rough spots.
Manilla Road’s debut, Invasion
was a poor album. A lot of the elements just didn’t add up to create a great, or good, or hell, even average album. But a savvy listener could definitely tell that the potential was there. The most obvious was the stunning guitar work. Another moment was the last two tracks where Mark Shelton’s vocals were actually good. And there were a few moments here and there where the rhythm section actually stood out. Manilla Road takes all this, builds on it, and creates a much better follow up. Manilla Road on this album is:
Mark Shelton- Vocals and Guitar
Scott Park- Bass Guitar
Rick Fisher- Backing Vocals and Drums
One of the few great things about Invasion
was the fantastic guitar work. That element stays the same, and it’s clearly not a bad thing. In fact, I’d say it is far improved over Invasion
. Just listen to the creepy guitar notes that open up the album. Or the fantastically epic solo from the title track, Metal
. The power of the riff is strong with this one.
The major criticism I had for Invasion
was Mark Shelton’s god-awful vocals. The good thing is that they are greatly improved; most of the tracks don't really have any distracting or poor vocals. In fact, the song Cage of Mirrors
has some of his best vocal work EVER. And some of the tracks have several parts that are of the same caliber. Except for Out of Control With Rock & Roll
and Far Side of the Sun
. He seems to revert to his old self here, producing terrible guttural vocals and just doesn’t really flow with the rest of the music. Also, the re-recorded Far Side of the Sun
is nearly improved in every way. It no longer is overly long and the production is much better. This is a great show of how Metal
improves on its predecessor. Except that the vocals still suck. There is a lot of better vocal work on this album than there was on Invasion
, but there are still some fairly rough spots.
The next issue I had with Invasion
, the overly long songs, is also fixed. All of the songs are shorter, and even the two longer songs Metal
and Cage of Mirrors
never drag like some of their predecessors. With this change, the songs stay exciting and never linger or overstay their welcomes.
And the final part of Invasion
that drove me crazy was the production. It was so muddied and unclear that I wasn’t ever entirely sure what was going on. Here, the production is much clearer. It’s still a little rough, but you can easily tell what is going on now.
The rhythm section is probably the biggest improvement overall on this album. Whereas on Invasion
, it simply did its job. Here, it is much more dynamic and exciting, giving all the songs a solid and energetic rhythm to build on.
As you can easily see, Metal
is an improvement in almost every way from its predecessor. However, some of the songs, like Defender
and Queen of the Black Coast
are very average, and don’t really add much. But, one can easily see the hints of future greatness, much more so than on the debut. Just a little more, and they could easily be shoved into great album territory. And besides, an album called Metal
has to be amazing, right?
-Great Guitar Work
-Improved Rhythm Section
-Still some poor vocal work
-Some simply average songs
-Cage of Mirrors
-Enter the Warrior