Wichita, Kansas band Manilla Road took the initial steps towards a pure heavy metal sound with their third album Crystal Logic in 1983, slowly moving away from the mix of psychedelia, space rock, and hard rock that permeated their first two releases. Shadow Kingdom Records has now reissued this little gem in all its glory, the first of a string of stellar releases from the band that they put together in the 1980's. The line-up here on Crystal Logic was Mark Shelton (guitars, vocals), Scott Park (bass), and Rick Fisher (drums, backing vocals).
Though not as refined as future releases Open the Gates, The Deluge, and Mystification, Crystal Logic no doubt shows a band that was no doubt ready to take some chances in the world of heavy metal and deliver something that was different and unique. The production here is raw and unpolished (a quality that actually became a trademark for the band) and the songs have less of an 'epic' feel that what we saw from them later on, but there's still this majestic, galloping direction happening here that would soon be known as the Manilla Road sound. References to Iron Maiden, Manowar, Cirith Ungol, and early Judas Priest can be heard at times on songs like "Necropolis", "Feeling Free Again" and the kick ass title track, while the powerful riffs and deep grooves of "The Riddle Master" almost remind of those initial albums from Twisted Sister, when they actually were a metal band. Of course, that epic metal style with hints of prog rock starts to rear its head on "The Veils of Negative Existence" and most certainly the lengthy "Dreams of Eschaton", the latter a real adventurous piece that hints at some of the early prog-metal work of Rush as well as Fates Warning. Through it all, Shelton's guitar work is stellar, as he delivers memorable, heavy riffs and blazing lead solos, and while his nasally high pitched vocals are somewhat of an acquired taste for some, they do fit the music once you get used to his style.
Shadow Kingdom's reissue comes with full lyrics so you can read along with the bands fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mythology soaked lyrical imagery, which was just starting to really take off here. Again, the sound of this album is raw and somewhat muddy, but that's kind of the charm of it I guess. Crystal Logic was no doubt an important step for Manilla Road, and they've never looked back since.
3) Crystal Logic
4) Feeling Free Again
5) The Riddle Master
6) The Ram
7) The Veils of Negative Existence
8) Dreams of Eschaton/Epilogue
9) Flaming Metal Systems