MANILLA ROAD — Mark of the Beast (review)

MANILLA ROAD — Mark of the Beast album cover Album · 2002 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Warthur
Don't be fooled by the packaging - this isn't the heavy metal Manilla Road of their classic era, or even the revived Manilla Road of Atlantis Rising onwards. Instead, Mark of the Beast is a release of the long-lost second Manilla Road album, which had already circulated in a bootleg form as The Dreams of Eschaton. Here, the band seem to be dabbling in a dreamy sort of "diet prog" style, a bit like KISS were aiming for on Music From the Elder but with more of a clue as to how to scratch that Dungeons & Dragons itch.

It's an interesting historical curio, but I can't put hand on heart and say it's worthy of the term "lost classic". For one thing, the recording quality clearly isn't what it could be, and for another the compositions are a little weak, meandering around repetitively just a bit too long. Manilla Road would scrap this approach and retool for the Metal album, which gets rather overshadowed by their material from Crystal Logic onwards, and whilst Metal itself might not have bowled many people over I think the decision to change direction was justified.

On pure musical quality, three stars. Add a star if you are a big Manilla Road fan and want to hear this curious little path-not-taken.
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