Manilla Road
Mysterium


3.0
good

Review

by Aaron Arneson CONTRIBUTOR (109 Reviews)
February 25th, 2013 | 57 replies


Release Date: 02/01/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not all that mysterious after all. Manilla Road's 16th LP is good, but leaves the listener wanting more.

Manilla Road are without a doubt one of the hardest working independent metal acts in existence today. Formed in the late 70’s by Mark ‘the shark’ Shelton, the band took on an epic metal sound that was not unlike bands like Iron Maiden, especially on albums like their fantastic breakthrough Crystal Logic. However, thanks in part to Shelton’s unique vocals and the band’s refusal to be mainstream, they have remained unpredictable and mysterious for over 30 years and the cycle has continued into 2013 with the band’s 16th full length release Mysterium.

Or has it? Many of the qualities the band is known for are still present on the band’s newest effort, but the release is not without its disappointments. The main flaw in the album can be found in the vocals of Mark ‘the shark’ himself. Although his vocals sound nearly as unique as ever, they feel very uninspired on most tracks and lack the passion and energy found on the band’s best releases. The album gets off to a rather underwhelming start with ‘The Grey God Passes’ which is a prime example of Shelton’s watered down vocals. Thankfully, he does sound much better on the slower tracks such as ‘The Battle of Bonchester Bridge’ or the somber ‘The Fountain’, but the vocals just seem to be lacking the energy to make the heavier tracks stand out the way they have in the past.

Thankfully, despite the disappointing vocals, the drums sound fantastic on most of the album, which is due mostly to the improvement in production. There’s also no shortage of flashy guitar work and songs like the fast-paced ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Only The Brave’ are packed with blistering guitar solos while tracks such as ‘Hermitage‘ and ‘Do What Thou Will’ contain the album's most memorable riffs. However, perhaps the most complex song on the album instrumentally is the lengthy 11 minute title track. It starts with very light drumming and atmospheric guitar notes before exploding into one of the heaviest songs on the album. It brings the band's newest effort to a satisfying and somewhat unexpected close, but it’s still hard not to feel like the band could have done better.

Mysterium isn’t a terrible album, it’s just a somewhat underwhelming release from a band that is capable of so much better. If you’re a die hard fan of Manilla Road, there are definitely some enjoyable moments to be found throughout the band’s 16th release, especially in the soothing nature of ‘The Fountain’, but if you’re looking for an album that shows off the band’s raw talent and musicianship, you’d be better off listening to the epic Crystal Logic or the often overlooked Mystification. If there’s one thing Shelton did right on this album, it was his decision to improve the production of the guitars and drums, but unfortunately he seems to have lost his magic in the process.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


album is streaming on spotify for those who have it.

recently got really into this band but this was pretty disappointing overall wasn't sure if i should give it a 2.5 or a 3.

oh and any constructive criticism is appreciated.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2013


18483 Comments


the one track i heard of this had a god awful production job

might check it out if im bored

Digging: Recondite - Caldera/DRGN 2

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


it's not that great but i enjoy a few tracks. probably a 2.7 hehe

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


Yup lol. I've only heard like 4 of them but crystal logic is amazing. U might dig them if u like iron maiden andcas

manosg
February 25th 2013


6094 Comments


Manilla Road was unknown to me until I bought an issue of Metal Hammer with a cd of theirs in it. They have released a few great albums and they could and should have been more popular. Anyway, enjoyable read, pos.

Digging: John Coltrane - Ballads

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


thanks man. yeah crystal logc is fantastic dare i say i enjoy it more than rainbox rising? I'm actually writing a review for that one right now ;)

manosg
February 25th 2013


6094 Comments


hahaha, yeah crystal logic is awesome. On the other hand, Blackmore/Dio/Cozy have created an undeniable classic, so I will be waiting for your review and the final verdict.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


I can tell this is gonna get a lot of comments lol

70sPriestIsBetter
February 25th 2013


1934 Comments


havent heard any post-80s road and honestly dont intend to change that any time soon

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


fair enough man sticking with crystal logic is a good plan anyways. I do like 'the fountain' but this album is pretty underwhelming

CaptainDooRight
February 25th 2013


29137 Comments


Pos'd nice right up

underwhelming's a good way to put it

Digging: Kangding Ray - Solens Arc

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2013


19756 Comments


thanks again captain.

I've seen reviews on other sites talking about how great this album is but yeah it's definitely underwhelming.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


19756 Comments


really digging 'the fountain' it's a solid track.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


19756 Comments


thanks man. nobody seems to care about this band lol. but yeah if you don't like crystal logic then i doubt you'll like this.

also, let me know if there's anything you see i can improve on!

Ecnalzen
February 26th 2013


6537 Comments


"Thankfully, he does sound much better on the slower tracks such as ‘The Battle of Bonchester Bridge’ or the somber ‘The
Fountain"

"There’s also no shortage of flashy guitar work and songs like the fast paced ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Only The Brave’ are
packed with blistering guitar solos"

I think you should be using 'and' instead of 'or' in these sentences.

"If you’re a die hard fan of Manilla Road, there are definitely some enjoyable moments to be found throughout the
band’s 16th release, especially in the soothing nature of ‘The Fountain’, but if you’re looking for an album that shows off
the band’s raw talent and musicianship, you’d be better off listening to the epic Crystal Logic or the often overlooked
Mystification"

This sentence feels really long. It is probably fine the way it is, but the "especially in the soothing nature of 'The
Fountain'" could be in parentheses since it's a direct example of the part before it. Like this:

"there are definitely some enjoyable moments to be found throughout the band’s 16th release (especially in the soothing
nature of ‘The Fountain’), but if you’re looking for an album that shows off the band’s raw talent and musicianship"

This way, there aren't as many commas and the sentence doesn't feel drawn out with so many pauses. The part with the
reference to The Fountain also feels like a bit of an afterthought for the sentence and isn't essential to get your point
across, which is why I would put it in (). That's all I really saw after reading. Nicely done, Atari.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


19756 Comments


Cool thanks for the feedback man. I'm not home but I'll tidy up the review a bit later

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


19756 Comments


i'm starting to think there's a lot i could improve on with my writing but nobody ever gives me suggestions so thanks again man

Ecnalzen
February 26th 2013


6537 Comments


Yup, hope it's good advice and is helpful to you.

It doesn't seem like very many people really critique anymore, and if they do, they are usually a total dick about it and end up getting in a war of words with the reviewer, lol. Or the reviewer takes it the wrong way and is a ass to the person trying to help them. It's a vicious cycle, man.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2013


19756 Comments


yeah i know what you mean but i usually don't take it the wrong way. I've even asked theacademy for feedback in the past. I'd rather have harsh honest feedback than nothing at all hehe.

Ecnalzen
February 26th 2013


6537 Comments


Yeah, I usually just give advice/critique users I am familiar with so I don't have anything like that happen. Nothing like having a pointless argument with someone on the internet, you know?

lol, I have seen theacademy's feedback before. It can be brutal.



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