Review Summary: Manilla Road proves that they are in fact witches and masters of black magic.
I refuse to accept this. There is no way it is possible. How can a band release a poor debut (not too strange), a much improved follow up (still not too odd), but then release THREE fantastic albums in a row and not be well known? Or at least moderately so? All my close metalhead friends, whenever I bring these guys up go “Who?” I present the only explanation. Mark Shelton is in fact, a black wizard and master of the dark arts, and he has performed some sort of sorcery to create albums that are this good but still remain unknown. Many of you will probably say, “That’s ridiculous! Lots of good bands go unnoticed!” And I retort, “Shut up. You’re ruining my theory.”
Something that is definitely magical on this album is the ability of all the members. Shelton still walks proudly among the masters of riffing, consistently providing enjoyable, headbangable riffs and solos. The fret board fireworks are continued here, just like every Manilla Road album, there are some songs that really show off Shelton’s ability to shred. From the completely scientifically incorrect song Friction in Mass
, the title track, The Deluge
, and almost every other song, has at least one really awesome guitar part. And while I have showered praise on every Manilla Road for Shelton's great guitar work, here they really out do themselves. This album probably has the best tracks (guitar wise) that Manilla Road have ever done, just listen to the supremely epic The Deluge
, the frenetic solos of Friction in Mass
, or the insane chaos of the closer, Rest in Pieces
And Shelton’s vocals are improving as well. He experimented with some harsher vocals on the previous album, Open the Gates
, and it was hit or miss. But here, Shelton’s harsh vocals are fantastic, proving that yes, he can sound gruff and angry without coming off as slightly ridiculous. Hammer of the Witches
(SEE, WITCHERY!!!!) and Isle of the Dead
show off Shelton’s harsh vocals at their best.
Manilla Road’s rhythm section is continuing to improve, and here, the bass shows major improvement. Instead of just galloping along, it is clearly audible, playing some very technical and demanding bass parts. Just listen to Scott Park's bass playing on the track Divine Victim
, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Randy Foxe is still as good as he usually is, playing extraordinarily fast. I challenge you to find me a drummer of the same era (1985~1986) who plays as well as this guy does. I know the most immediate response is Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame, but Randy is almost as fast and much more technical.
Manilla Road manages to outdo themselves here, topping even their fantastic third album, Crystal Logic
. Every little element of this album is great. In order to even seem a little more critical, I listened to this album at least ten times trying to find the tiniest fault. Yet every time I only came away with more good things to say. The production? Is it even a little off? Nope, the production is fantastic, letting you hear everything. How about lyrics? Are they even a tad bit silly? Well, a little, but not much. Is their a single overlong song? Nope, there is not a single dull moment. Is there even a little filler? Not really, no. I eventually grew so frustrated by my budding fanboyism I swore I would never listen to this album again. But it still drew me in. And that is a hallmark of a great album. No matter how many times I listen to this album i still manage to enjoy everything. And I'm going to finish up now so I can go listen to this little slab of sorcery again....
-Strong guitar work
-Great harsh vocals
-Robust Rhythm section
-The title "Friction in Mass." Seriously guys? Did you ever take physics?
-Hammer of the Witches
-Friction in Mass