Review Summary: This is starting to get ridiculous.
They’ve done it AGAIN!!! I’m starting to get a little annoyed. Are Manilla Road incapable of releasing anything not good? I’m starting to think so. And they refuse to rest on their laurels! They refuse to release albums that sound very similar to previous albums. They always add some new influence or expand a previously existing one, or remove an old one, or something! They always are changing. And the keep rocking at what they do. And this brings us to Mystification
Since Open the Gates
, Manilla Road has had a thrash influence. It was downplayed a little on The Deluge
in favor of more traditional heavy metal. Here, it is back in force. In fact, I’d argue that Mystification
is a straight up thrash metal album, eschewing the previous genre of epic heavy metal that Manilla Road has made its own. The guitar is faster than ever, the drums are more pounding, and now the bass is lower in the mix. Sounds an awful lot like thrash metal to me.
While I criticized Open the Gates
for being too thrashy, I quite enjoy the brand of thrash that Manilla Road is playing here. While the elements of thrash were attempted on Open the Gates
, it didn’t mesh well. Here, they figured out how thrash works. They are faster paced, sound more aggressive, and have their crappiest production since Metal
While Mark Shelton’s voice has always been a little like Dave Mustaine of Megadeth fame, here the comparison is even more fitting. He attempts Dave’s trademark snarl here, and with pretty good results. Death by the Hammer
shows off Mark’s Mustaine Worshipping at its finest, with some of the most aggressive vocals Mark’s done. And it’s done pretty well, giving other thrash bands a run for their money when it comes to vocal work.
Shelton’s guitar work has also been sped up, throwing up fast riffs left and right, but it still seems like Manilla Road guitar work. Just a hell of a lot faster. Masque of the Red Death
is a standout of this album when it comes to the six string. However, they also have a more slow paced song, Dragon Star
, which is wonderfully doomy track, with a great melodic solo at the end.
Randy Foxe’s drumming is a fast and furious as ever, even increasing the thrash feel of the album. However, his compatriot in the rhythm section, Scott Park, is lost in the mix. Manilla Road has always been a band that had a robust bass player. Unfortunately, the way the way the album is produced masks his playing for the most part, except for a few moments here and there, like on Children of the Night
The production here isn’t as good as it has been on previous Manilla Road albums. This is mostly the fault of the new production equipment they got in an attempt to have cleaner production. Well, look how well that turned out.
Despite my complaints, this is a damn good album, and an interesting change in pace from previous Manilla Road albums. While their previous epic heavy metal style still pokes through at times, this is a full blown thrash album. Any metalheads who didn’t care for their style of epic metal can try out this very different Manilla Road album, but fans of the Road shouldn’t discount this album either.
-Strong Rough Vocals
-Bass is almost inaudible at times
Masque of the Red Death
Death by the Hammer
Children of the Night
Note: There is a re-mastered version of this album, which has vastly superior production. It pretty much corrects the faults I had with this album. If you prefer cleaner production, attempt to get that version.