Epic Heavy Metal from USA
The Manilla Road is long and triumphant. It spans forty years and eighteen studio albums. It’s a glorious one, with few blemishes and high point after high point. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to and reflecting on Manilla Road’s expansive discography since Mark “The Shark” Shelton passed away. Manilla Road’s catalogue is virtually unmatched, with very few bands getting anywhere close to their level of quality, consistency, and volume. Even with a discography as mighty as it is massive, one album stands out to me amongst the rest – The Deluge.
Manilla Road utilize a mix of US power, traditional metal, doom metal, and at times even thrash metal over long and loose song structures to create massive sounscapes. The Deluge represents the culmination and perfection of Manilla Road’s signature epic heavy metal style. Everything that is quintessentially Manilla Road is present here and out in full force.
From the aggressive “Hammer of the Witches” to the epic “Friction in Mass”, Manilla Road show off their superb songwriting capabilities. Mark Shelton was extremely talented at guitar and it showed in his music. The Deluge demonstrates this talent remarkably well – the riffs are unforgettable and incredibly varied. Randy Foxe’s drums are full and organic, helping to compliment Mark’s signature guitar tone. His drumming is impeccable and as aggressive as it possibly gets in the traditional vein of metal. With Scooter right beside him, they form an unstoppable duo of drum and bass that drive the music like no other.
The production on The Deluge is so incredibly raw and 80s that it would have hurt almost any other band. However in this case, it only lends to the Road’s mystical and arcane style of epic heavy metal. A more polished production would have taken away from Manilla Road’s unique sound. Shelton’s distinct “sorcerer guiding you through a dangerous journey” vocals are more suited to this style of production.
The Deluge has the most effective layout of any Manilla Road record. The album starts with several shorter and more aggressive tracks which are followed by two massive epics. The Deluge then closes off with a blistering fast instrumental that shows off Mark’s innate ability to write guitar solos. There’s an incredible array of variety found among the songs and I’ve never found myself bored listening to this record. With a little under forty minutes of material, Mark and co. waste absolutely no time delivering this variety.
Mark Shelton’s immense dedication to heavy metal can never be overstated. He wrote and performed music relentlessly with Manilla Road for over four decades. With his death, metal lost one of its most valiant stalwarts and an invaluable member of the community. Mark’s unwavering dedication to music is what made Manilla Road as great as they are. To me, The Deluge is his crowning achievement – a monolithic slab of epic heavy metal that stands nearly unrivaled.
Rest in power Mark “The Shark” Shelton – you were as good as they come.
Album rating: 99/100
Favorite track: The Deluge