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Unreal...Just Unreal - 95%

brocashelm, April 18th, 2006

The Midwest rises again with another superior effort from eternal underdogs Manilla Road, and this time with their toughest, meanest sounding album yet. Continuing their mythic and signature style, the band wield another bunch of battle ready metal here, and the more I listen to these once long lost albums, now back to haunt us on CD, I find it harder and harder to believe how un-revered Manilla Road was in their day.

But never you mind, because once the hard charge of “Metalstrom” hits your ears, you’ll marvel at the strength and power so evident here. And more, convincingly, this band wrote truly memorable songs that are the work of people who truly gave a damn about the quality of the music they were crafting, a fact that the doom-ridden (a kinda Pentagram style of riff here) title song makes evident. In fact the downright compelling sound of “Astronomica” which mixes melody with brute riffs sounds like the work of a far more mature act (this was their fourth album, but their style is so unique it might as well be their tenth!). More ominous tones give “Weavers Of The Web” it’s dark feel, and Mark Shelton’s voice is a fearful proposition, clear but eerie as it is.

And it just wouldn’t be a Manilla Road album without at least one epic on board, and “The Ninth Wave” holds that position well here, a sword and sorcery enhanced tale with regal riffs and vigorous performances. The anthemic “Heavy Metal To The World” is pretty predictable given it’s fist-pounding title, but the album’s mythic remainder dive back into the more considered side of the band, with “The Fires Of Mars” and harrowing “Witches’ Brew” standing tallest.

Hey, I just thought of something! You know how shallow and desperate modern power metal tends to sound compared to the quality work of its earlier exponents? Well if today’s dragon-humping, beer-swilling, metal hailing throng were one-tenth as creative and honest to themselves as this band, I wouldn’t have nearly as much to complain about. Seriously, this is the real deal when it comes to real metal.