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Manilla Road - 1983 Crystal Logic



ARTIST: Manilla Road
ALBUM: Crystal Logic
LABEL: Roadster
SERIAL: MR 1003
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1986, Black Dragon, BD 018 * 2000, Iron Glory Records (with bonus track) IG 1009

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Mark Shelton - lead vocals, 6 & 12 string guitars * Scott Park - bass * Rick Fisher - drums, percussion, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Prologue * 02 Necropolis * 03 Flaming Metal System * 04 Crystal Logic * 05 Feeling Free Again * 06 The Riddle Master * 07 The Ram * 08 The Veils Of Negative Existence * 09 Dreams Of Eschaton - Epilogue

WEBLINKS: www.manillaroad.net


Background
Years ago I read the early Manilla Road LP's sounded like a heavier version of Kansas and Styx although further investigation revealed it was hardly an accurate description. What I found was one heck of a strange metal band that over the last three decades has carved a rabid cult following among hardcore metal fans around the globe. Formed in unlikely Wichita, Kansas in 1976; Manilla Road worked in splendid isolation, developing a sound that was not only unique but has become decidedly heavier with each consecutive release although their third album 'Crystal Logic' seems to be the starting point where the band finally came into its own and is considered to be their finest moment.


The Songs
Originally released on the band's own Roadster label, it's a solid record albeit more than just a little off-kilter. As the fantasy cover art suggests, 'Crystal Logic' lyrically covers tried and true metal subject matter with vivid sword and sorcery, sci-fi imagery that would please even the most jaded Dio fan, but what I can't get beyond is guitarist Mark Shelton's nasally vocals. His range is adequate but too often reminds me of Black Oak Arkansas' Jim Dandy minus the soul-saving whiskey-soaked growl which just doesn't work for me. It is what it is, although instrumentally Manilla Road are as you would expect; heavy, over the top, at times cheesy but always melodic and tracks like the pounding 'The Riddle Master' which is ultimately quite catchy or the monstrous Blue Oyster Cult influenced riffs on 'The Ram' are more than enough to recommend 'Crystal Logic' to the uninitiated despite misgivings in the vocal department.


In Summary
The last album with founding drummer Rick Fisher who disapproved of the Road's heavier direction; future releases moved full force and without apology into Speed and Power Metal much to the pleasure of the underground who up to the present day treat each new Manila Road release as a major event. Reissued on both CD and Vinyl on numerous occasions, the 2000 'Crystal Logic' reissue on Germany's Iron Glory label contains the track 'Flaming Metal Systems' which originally appeared on Shrapnel's 'U.S. Metal Vol. 3' compilation and is the version to seek out.


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on March 03 2012 12:39:57
Expect to see one or two more MR reviews in future..
#2 | george_the_jack on March 03 2012 19:59:26
I absolutely love this album and I'm pleasantly surprised that MR has started being reviewed here in GD! Great one Eric! All songs are of exceptional quality here. My personal favourites are 'Necropolis', 'Dreams Of Eschaton' and 'The Veils Of Negative Existence'.
#3 | Eric on March 04 2012 04:07:23
Also released as a very rare picture disc.
 
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