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lunedì 12 gennaio 2015

Manilla Road - Out of the Abyss

#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Epic/Power
I often rant about the undeserved fame of certain artists, whilst other, more worthy acts are left to fade away into obscurity. Thankfully, Kansas' Manilla Road never really 'faded into obscurity' - they just never received the recognition that they rightfully deserve and, even after 37 years, remain criminally underrated. Their 1988 classic "Out of the Abyss" is getting the remastering treatment soon, and though I don't think it needs any polishing, it may do the band good to boost the acknowledgement of such a phenomenal release. With regards to the remastering; the only aspect of this album which could be improved is the production quality. But remember, this was recorded 26 years ago, and the sound is certainly exemplary for the period. Well, what to say about this beast that hasn't already been said? It's a total all-out power/thrash assault. The epic scope of previous Manilla Road albums had been set aside (though not completely) to make way for a more grimy and evil timbre; the fantastical and ethereal lyrics substituted for a bit more blood and gore; and the music itself less melodic, more direct and definitely more thrash-oriented. Speedy numbers like "Black Cauldron", "Midnight Meat Train" and the title track display characteristics that would make the likes of Carnivore or Heathen blush, whilst showing more musical prowess than anything Slayer ever cranked out. The mid-paced stompers like "Slaughterhouse" and "Rites of Blood" are where the 'Road really shine. Mark Shelton's riffs get a lot more room to breathe and almost force the listener to bang their heads, especially in the former track (at the 2:01 mark). Speaking of Shelton: his vocals still have the vibrato and melodic shine that was so present on "Crystal Logic", but he now employs a far grittier scream where necessary - seriously contributing to the evil atmosphere this album exhibits. The real highlight of this album (which is almost worth the price of the album all by itself) is the utterly insane opener, "Whitechapel". This grotesque tribute to Victorian murderer Jack The Ripper is an 8-minute balls-to-the-wall thrash-fest. Keeping the energy level high, the drum rhythms blazing and the riffs vicious whilst remaining musically interesting for this length, is a feat one simply must behold. It remains utterly unjust how such a prolific band, who have released countless albums over their 37-year-career, can still be so overlooked in the metal community. However, Manilla Road have released quality material in their current state for aeons, so whatever their magic formula is, let's hope it does not waver. Now buy this album, you lowly peasant. (Larry Best)

(Shadow Kingdom Records - 2014)
Score: 90