Invasion was the 1980 debut from Wichita, Kansas underground epic metal sensations Manilla Road, now being reissued by Shadow Kingdom Records. The original trio of Mark Shelton (guitar, vocals), Scott Park (bass), and Rick Fisher (drums, backing vocals) at this early stage hadn't yet adopted their unique style that combined fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mythological lyrical themes with a mix of power metal, NWOBHM, and thrash. Invasion still shows a band trying to find their vision, and much of the album steers towards hard rock with elements of metal, psych, and prog rock. That being said, there is still plenty of thrilling material here that shows that even at this early juncture Manilla Road had their creative juices flowing.
"Cat and Mouse" is an especially enjoyable and heavy rocking song, as the band throws together bits of early Rush and Black Sabbath, complete with crushing riffs and sizzling lead solos from the very talented Shelton. The prog & psych influences pop up on the atmospheric "Far Side of the Sun", and both "Street Jammer" and "The Dream Goes On" has some space rock elements to go along with a heavy rock attitude. Perhaps the most prog influenced song here is the adventurous "The Empire", again very much in the early Rush vein, with lilting guitar patterns and loads of atmosphere eventually leading to more bombastic arrangements and plenty of exploratory guitar passages. I can easily see fans of the first couple of Iron Maiden albums also really enjoying this piece.
Raw and not quite as polished as the band would get over the next few releases, Invasion still has a certain charm to it, and it without a doubt has the Manilla Road stamp all over it. Shadow Kingdom's reissue sounds pretty good, and the booklet comes complete with photos, lyrics, and an essay from Mark Shelton.
1) The Dream Goes On
2) Cat and Mouse
3) Far Side of the Sun
4) Street Jammer
5) Centurian War Games
6) The Empire