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Classic US epic metal - 95%

Axecrusher, March 8th, 2004

It is impossible for Manilla Road to make a record that blows away the highlight Crystal Logic. Open the Gates is the follower and indeed can't be compared with the masterpiece, although it is an excellent follower.

After a little intro the great and mighty "Metalstorm" which features a fantastic riff, awesome drumming by my favorite drummer ever, Randy Foxe is the name, and raw vocals by mister Shelton. During the recordings he was ill, but still managed to do a very good job with his throat (I love this rawness!). The second song is one of the most famous Manilla Road songs, but also one of the shortest. It is the great headbanger "Open the Gates".

After these two songs we can state that Manilla Road sounds a lot more aggressive and also faster. This is without doubt their purest metal release, still with wonderful epic influences. On the song "Astronomica" for instance we can enjoy these ingredients again, and the vocals sound so unbelievable 'mighty'. It really gives you a sense of power. The very long, mystic and epic The Ninth Wave never has been my favorite song from this album, and "Heavy Metal to the World" is totally misplaced. But "The Fires of Mars' is a hell of a song again. You'll forget about the previous song immediately! Once again the riffs strike down like thunder and the vocals create a very king of 'dreaming' atmosphere. Road of Kings is somewhat more melodic, but still is a very good song.

On the re-release there are two bonus tracks, the great Hour of the Dragon and the fantastic epic metal hymn "Witches Brew". Like I said, this album cannot be compared to a masterpiece like "Crystal Logic" but it is a very worthy Manilla Road album! Up the hammers!!!