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Manilla Road: The Courts of Chaos

Shadow Kingdom Records have been hard at work on their Manilla Road reissues of late, and this one is The Courts of Chaos, which was originally released in 1990. As history has it, The Courts of Chaos was the last album with the line-up of Mark Shelton, Randy Foxe, and Scott Park, as the band would break up shortly after and not resurface again until 2001. As with much of the Manilla Road discography, this release is filled with their classic, epic styled metal, though there is a tremendous influence of the then popular trash movement, especially in the guitar and vocal department. As such it remains one of the bands heavier statements.

For a band that rarely recorded cover versions, they certainly did a great job on the early hard rock/metal classic "D.O.A." by Bloodrock, a real spooky tune that works real well here. By no means though is that tune the highlight here however, as songs like "Dig Me No Grave", "From Beyond", and especially the epic "The Books of Skelos" rock hard with Shelton's inventive riffing and Foxe's acrobatic drum work. Some of Shelton's vocals have a real gruff nature to them, squarely in the thrash camp and also coming quite close to some of the early death metal growls, but for the most part he sticks to his nasally clean delivery, which for some is an acquired taste but he's certainly unique. The bands penchant for progressive elements can be heard on the adventurous "Into the Courts of Chaos" and "A Touch of Madness", each one dripping in atmosphere but also with thunderous heavy sections, not unlike early Rush. It's the thrash influenced tunes that really jump out at you through, like the blazing "(Vlad) The Impaler", with its furious riffs and speedy drum fills, giving an even harder edge to this band who already had a pretty unique sound. Toss in these heavy arrangements with prog-like keyboards on "The Prophecy" and you have a real winning combination.

If The Courts of Chaos signaled the end of an era for Manilla Road, they went out on a high note. Eleven years later they came back stronger than ever, and are still waving the heavy metal flag to this day.

Track Listing
1) Road to Chaos
2) Dig Me No Grave
3) D.O.A.
4) Into the Courts of Chaos
5) From Beyond
6) A Touch of Madness
7) (Vlad) The Impaler
8) The Prophecy
9) The Books of Skelos:
a) THe Book of Ancients
b) The Book of Shadows
c) The Book of Skulls

Added: February 1st 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1705
Language: english

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