2. Into the Maelstrom
3. Playground of the Damned
5. Abattoir de la Mort
6. Fire of Ashurbanipal
7. Brethren of the Hammer
8. Art of War
Release Date: July 2011 – Shadow Kingdom Records
“The axe and the hammer of metal will never be buried, but sometimes they rust.”
Descriptions for which Manilla Road are, have no place here. Their name is as glorious as every live performance of them and their first albums are the right example to learn what epic metal is. The reunion of the band became true because of the love that their fans showed to the band according to Mark. The wondering of some people why Manilla Road keep recording new albums I could explain it as a passion of their members to write lyrics and synthesize music, even if the result does not give pleasure to everyone.
The band reached to its zenith of glory many years ago and this for second time is too difficult to happen. Playground Of The Damned is the 15th album of the band and to tell you the truth I do think is better than Voyager. It contains some good and beautiful moments, but it is not the one which will guide you to the epic horizon of Manilla Road. The first different clue in it is that Mark Shelton is not the only who sings, Bryan Patrick undertakes the others without sharing
them with Mark. Bryan has nice voice, but when we hear Manilla Road we
want them under the voice of Mark, the band is an old one and a fresh voice cannot make them young again.
“Jackhammer” opens the album with the best of our expectations, nice riff and a long solo in the ending carry inside them the legacy of the long history of the band, but this is not able to offer us pleasant moments. After this song, while you hear “Playground Of The Damned” or “Abattoir De La Mort”, the climate changes because of Bryan. His angry and heavier than enough voice does not appeal me despite the right formed music. “Fire Of Ashurbanipal” is interesting, but not as strong as the first. It is really strange that the band has nice epic riffs, but they do not try for the further step. I understand that if I am looking for greater songs I should listen to albums like Open The Gates or Out Of The Abyss, but by the time the band records a new album they have to go for the best result. “Art Of War” is my favorite song, full of melodic parts
and a strong part just before the finale.
Unfortunately, two or three songs cannot save the batch, the production plays also a serious role in an album and this production is one of the worst I have ever heard and I do not understand how a band like Manilla Road permitted to happen something like this. The sound does not help the songs too much, it is like you hear them sounding from the well.
The die hard fans may appreciate this album more than me and the rest who will read this review before hear the album, just do not get rushed to judge it by my words. Give the chance to yourself and to the album too. Manilla Road will not lose their identity or their glory because of this album; they will remain on the top and without it.
Review by Dr. Feelgood