Review Summary: Manilla Road’s Seventh Star.
Many metal fans know the story of why Seventh Star
was called a Black Sabbath record, even though Tony Iommi wanted it to be a solo record and to be able to try out new things that fans wouldn't accept from a Sabbath record. The record label thought they could make more money off the Black Sabbath name (which is probably true) and Tony Iommi was basically Sabbath anyway at that point, right? Here, Mark Shelton wanted to basically do the same thing. He wanted to do stuff that he wouldn’t EVER have gotten away with if it had the Manilla Road name slapped on it. Well, guess what? It got the Manilla Road name slapped on it by the record label, hoping for more money (sound familiar?). And he didn’t get away with it.
The record starts off well, with the strong Throne of Blood
. It seems vaguely reminiscent of Shelton’s work with Manilla Road, but distinct enough that you can really see it as a spin off. However, it goes downhill from there. Lux Aeterna
starts promising with a cool atmospheric riffs and sounds. Then it degenerates into a sub-par glam metal power ballad, with some extremely cringe inducing vocals. And all this goes on for an ear torturing 8 minutes (8 minutes!!!! What were they thinking?). In fact, that description can fit almost every song. Nearly every song on the album starts strong, but devolves into a nigh unlistenable mess that goes on for far, far too long.
While vocals were never Manilla Road’s strong suit, here Shelton gets another vocalist to share duties with him. And he sucks. Ok, sucks is a strong word. It’s just that Andrew Coss is an extraordinarily sub-par vocalist, who sounds like any guy you could have grabbed off the street. I never thought I would be so longing for the simply awful vocals from the Road’s debut album, Invasion
Well, Mark Shelton has always been a great guitar player? Maybe there are some good riffs that can redeem this mess of an album. Unfortunately, not nearly enough. The aforementioned Throne of Blood
has a couple decent riffs, as does Flesh and Fury
, but that’s really about it. The rest are part of an uninspired mess that could have been taken from any hair metal album from the 80s.
Now these seem to be pretty major problems, but the worst is yet to come. The biggest problem is that this album has a major split personality issue (anyone else would have been taken into a mental hospital by now). It can’t decide between being a heavy metal record (Throne of Blood
, Murder by Degrees
, and Hack It Off
), a glam rock album (Lux Aeterna
, No Sign From Above
, and No Touch
), or something else entirely (The supremely bizarre and unfocused Spider
). The whole album comes off as a confused mess, almost like Mark Shelton decided, “Hey, I kinda like this genre, and this one too, and maybe this one, and let’s throw them all together and see what happens.”
I came into this not expecting a standard Manilla Road album, knowing the back story behind the whole album. But I came out baffled by the whole album. What was it trying to be? If Mark had answered that fundamental question before he started, we could be looking at a much better album (not great, but at least good). What is so frustrating about The Circus Maximus
is that you can see a couple great ideas spring up if you are willing to sift through the rest of the crap that comes with it. And that is ultimately makes the album fail.
-Some decent riffs and solos
-A couple interesting song structures
-Far too overlong
Throne of Blood
The last bit of She’s Fading