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Manilla Road - The Deluge - 85%

Pratl1971, October 25th, 2011

Shadow Kingdom Records has reissued the classic Manilla Road album The Deluge, which was originally released way back in the ancient artifact days of 1986. If you’re not familiar with Kansas’ Manilla Road, allow me to give you all the insight you’ll need to engage the band that has been heavier-than-thou since 1977. In terms of the true definition of power metal these guys are the textbook case, along with early Manowar, Helloween and Stormwitch. Long before it became a keyboard-laden travesty, true epic power metal was just this brand of music, and The Deluge provides a fine blueprint. It’s a lesson in power metal, if you will.

Nineteen-Eighty-Six was a stellar year for music as we old farts will attest (most to our dying breath). Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets, Obsessed by Cruelty and Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? all hit that year as the top metal surprises, while a slew of unknown or lesser-known bands scratched their way along the heap with little or no recognition. Manilla Road is definitely one of the bands that are legendary in their own right even if vast commercial success has largely eluded them. Coming off the absolutely amazing effort in 1985’s Open the Gates, The Deluge is rife with some truly magical metal moments. While honing the power metal skills to a fine point, the album also finds itself wrapped in the comfortable blankets of ‘lite’ thrash, controlled speed and NWOBHM; all of these elements bandied about in one record are sure to cultivate any true metalhead in search of something old to make new again.

Vocalist/guitarist Mark Shelton at times resembles a calmer David Wayne (“Isle of the Dead”) or even John Cyriis (“Friction in Mass”) sans high pitched vocal, all the while ceremoniously entrancing the listener with a singing style that can only be described as late 70’s hypnotic. He achieves this by means of an even, lower register that only lulls momentarily because Shelton can hit some highs when necessary, though he doesn’t need to rely on it. His tone fits the music perfectly and is as comfortable as it is memorable. While each song on this record is of tremendous quality, the end jam is a perfect complement to the strength of the collective. This album has already found its way into my player half a dozen times be it in the car or here in the dungeon. The traditional metal sound is alive and well and found within ten strong tracks on this latest opus in a long line of epic albums. I’ll be honest, I’ve heard most of the band’s discography over the years and I can seriously say there isn’t one clunker in the bunch, and from me that really says something! The Deluge provides a wonderful listening jaunt back to a time when the metal was pure, the limitations are nil and the road was open and for the taking.

The album dates itself only in that when these musical ideas were first implemented the metal spectrum was a much wider entity, but in that regard there is absolutely nothing here that makes this album seem out of sorts by being 25-years old. With the recent foray back into all things traditional these days, Manilla Road might finally capture some of the glory its baser contemporaries are enjoying because, bar none, they were in the sand first and built the bigger castle.

(Originally written for