Manilla Road - Mark of the Beast. 1981-1982 USA

So the story goes that this album was originally intended to be the second Manilla Road release after Invasion, but was scrapped, and Metal ended up being the final product. The title was to be "Dreams of Eschaton". I'm not buying it for one second. There's way too much variation of style and sound quality here to be a coherent album. Not to mention the 66 minute length (double LP? C'mon...). But this is the story Mark Shelton himself tells, but we know how it goes with bands and their memories...

What I will believe, though, is that these are demo recordings from the 1981/1982 time frame, and that would fit the label owner's story of him receiving it at that time as a teenager. It's important to remember that Manilla Road were a hard rock band at their beginning, with psychedelic guitar and progressive lyrical themes. And mostly that's what you get here, along with some of their early chugging metal style that was present on Metal.

It's mostly a solid psychedelic hard rock release, with a couple of down moments like 'Court of Avalon' and 'Venusian Sea' both of which seem go nowhere beyond hearing Shelton sing for way past the song's shelf life. So 13 minutes of just-OK music is hardly a bad batting average. On the flip side....

'Avatar' has to be heard to be believed. To me, this is the perfect 5 star / Gnosis 15 track. What a glorious mess of a song. It is all over the place. It's psychedelic, it's hard rock, it's metal, and it's progressive. All at the same time. I absolutely adore this time in music when there were obvious influences - yes - but not properly placed at all. There were no rules, just whatever they felt like doing, whenever they felt like doing it. You could hear this track forever and not hear it the same twice. I want a triple album of music like this! And then follows 'Dream Sequence' which is an organ dirge with echoed voices, sounding right off a 1970 German Ohr Krautrock album. And no keyboards are credited! Guys, are you sure you did this?

Anyway, so much material here, and plenty more inconsistencies that make it so weird and wonderful. In other words: Must own album!

Personal collection
CD: 2002 Monster

Fantastic archival set from Monster, and the CD includes all the lyrics and a history of the album penned by one of the label owners.

1 comment:

  1. Agree Tom. I've got the double LP version of this and it is a MUST own for everyone into "deranged" adventurous stuff in the context of songwriting... You'll be in for a treat!

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