Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crystal Logic

Manilla Road is the band that occupies the most space in my record collection. Not because they are my favorite band (though I am extremely fond of them), but because they have a huge discography dating as far back as 1980. Even more impressive is the fact that there is not really a bad record among them. "Crystal Logic" is the one that I find myself reaching for most often, it is one of those rare perfect albums. I'm going to assume that if you don't already own this album you probably know little to nothing about the single-most greatest heavy metal band to ever come raging out of Wichita, Kansas, so allow me to give you some history. Manilla Road was formed in 1977 by guitarist/vocalist Mark "The Shark" Shelton and his tight bros, Rick Fisher (drums) and Scott Parks (bass). The band was diligent and in 1980 they released their debut "Invasion" on their own label, Roadster Records. "Invasion" is a cool album of early Rush inspired hard rock/prog even if the playing falls short of the benchmark. Manilla Road unleashed a great follow-up album called "Metal" in '82 that showed the band adopting a more NWOBHM style. "Crystal Logic" followed in '83, and this really was the start of Manilla Road finding their own voice and creating something entirely their own. Shelton is a gifted songwriter and this album is testament to this fact. The songs vary from Iron Maidenesque gallops to slow mournful doomscapes with Shelton's unique, nasal voice spinning grandiose tales of fantasy with himself as the protagonist. There is absolutely no fat on this album (save for the intoduction), each moment, each riff is tremendous and has purpose. "Crystal Logic" never fails to entertain me no matter my mood nor how many times I have heard it before, it's always perfect. How many albums can you say that about? Mark "The Shark" still lives in Wichita and Manilla Road has existed now in some form or another for thirty years. 2005 saw the release of their fourteenth album "Gates Of Fire", and, dude, it's good. If there truly was such a thing as karma, or god, or whatever name you assign to the notion that the universe is fair, Mark Shelton would live in the castle that graces this masterpiece's cover, where he would sit on a throne of gold while oily concubines wash his feet in the tears of faeries. However, fortune rarely favors the geniuses and visionaries, and I am sure that Mark Shelton's reality is far less romantic. But through his work we all get to leave the mundane for a spell, and hear some great fucking songs in the process. Thanks Mark, you rule.

Here

10 comments:

chris karoshi said...

there's no contact info for you, what's the deal? so now i have to comment like an asshole. i was wondering if you could put up the unholy cadaver album cause i can't find it.

vugelnox said...

Fuck yeah! This album is flawless to my ears. Bookended by Necropolis, one of the strongest balls-out pure heavy metal songs of that era, and Dreams of Eschaton which is as fucking epic as epic can get.

All that and their next three studio albums are damn near just as good. Even their latest one, 2005's Gates of Fire, is brilliant.

Aesop said...

Hi, Chris. I want to put up the Unholy Cadaver demo, but feel I should ask John first. Perhaps in a few weeks. Thanks for reading.

Jace said...

Yes! I was just turning a friend on to Manilla Road earlier today! During the opening track of Gates of Fire, he pulled that "This is so awesome that I can't believe how awesome this is so I'm just going to laugh" move. Key cuts from Crystal Logic, The Deluge, Open the Gates, and Mystification sealed the deal!

Ambassador MAGMA said...

Manilla Road is one of the most underrated metal bands (if not the most) out there. Mark "the Shark" Shelton has such an awesome voice! It's epic and always delivers, but has something evil about it... like he's always sneering. Or riding a galloping steed. Or both.

Honestly, the cover is reason enough to buy it.

Flaming Metal System is one of my favorite songs ever

Anonymous said...

once again, thanx for the turn on aesop. what a great album by a great band. i totally relate to jace's friend thinking "this kicks so much ass, i cant believe ive never heard of these guys". opening riff of necropolis and i thought "hmm, what do we have here?" and then a quick "holy shit!!"..they still tour????

Aesop said...

They seldom play outside of Kansas. I guess they are huge in Greece and occasionally fly over to play huge fests. They still crank out an amazing album every few years, but this one and "Open The Gates" are the standouts. Glad you like it.

DiNo said...

I guess Magma occupies the most space in my collection (some 40 CDs, 7 LPs, 6 DVDs...)
Crystal Logic is the only album I had from Manilla Road (on cassette)... but I've been buying other stuff lately (and indeed, on ebay lots of it is available in Greece apparently!)
Funny how back in the days I liked stuff like Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol, but only now I hear how great they truly are...
Next stop... Brocas Helm! ;)

Aesop said...

Brocas Helm is awesome.

Nick said...

This is right up my alley, Aesop...dont know why I hadnt heard these guys before...thanks for the hook up!