Manilla Road - The Courts Of Chaos review


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Band: Manilla Road
Album: The Courts Of Chaos
Release date: 1990

01. Road To Chaos
02. Dig Me No Grave
03. D.O.A. [Bloodrock cover]
04. Into The Courts Of Chaos
05. From Beyond
06. A Touch Of Madness
07. (Vlad) The Impaler
08. The Prophecy
09. The Books Of Skelos
    1 - The Book Of The Ancients
    2 - The Book Of Shadows
    3 - The Book Of Skulls
10. Far Side of the Sun [live] [2002 re-release bonus]

"The Courts Of Chaos" was the last official release of Manilla Road, since the internal conflicts of the band, lead to a split-up some months later… As Mark Shelton (vocals) said, this was the first Manilla Road masterpiece, an opinion that many fans of the band share. Some people even believe that it should not be absent by any Heavy Metal collection… Personally, although I like this genre very much, I don't believe this album is so special… I'd rather say it becomes boring after the first songs…

The album begins with an instrumental song, with extensive use of keyboards - something usual to the band's intros… When you're in the right mood, this intro can infuse you some dark and scary feelings, since it's similar to the "horror film" soundtracks of that and earlier time. A very good idea, which caught my attention to the album… Although the use of keyboards is kept during the whole album, maintaining this "horror" feeling, it doesn't give the album a Doom/Gothic dope, as someone would probably expect. Maybe it's the vocals that remind a bit of Motörhead or the Thrashy riffs that spoil this. Or maybe it's the inexperience in the use of keyboards since it's the first time they use them on the whole album… A very representative song of this atmosphere is D.O.A, which is by the way, the only cover the band ever made. Apart from the use of keyboards, there's another innovation noticed here. It's the heavy influences of the Thrash Metal scene. Something I can't say I really liked. To be honest I didn't expect that thing at all. It even brought me a headache at some point! I don't think I'll ever probably listen to this album again! Well, maybe it's the thing that I dislike Thrash since I'm more fan of melodic metal. Many fans of the band though, liked this change. Comparing to their older releases, this is a clearly Thrash album… So if you like Thrash Metal, this is an album you'll probably like; it's not a bad album at all. The capabilities of the band members are remarkable. Shelton's vocals and guitar playing are great - maybe the best so far. The drums are also great although I heard something about a drum machine used in the studio, but in the few live shows that followed, Randy Foxe played with the one hand the drums and with the other the keyboards! Truly amazing! Finishing this, I forgot to say that the trilogy of "The Books Of Skelos" found at the end of the album is a great song. I think they kept the best for the end. By the way, "Skelos" in Greek means dog, but I don't believe this has anything to do with the song!

Ending this review, I would like to refer to the cover art of the album. It's a strange concept of a Medieval torturing place. I think that's "The Courts of Chaos", were people of all ages are tortured to death. A really disturbing art work, which I don't clearly get the point… Maybe the road shown is the "Manilla Road" leading to Chaos… Something prophetic in my opinion since the band disbanded after that release!

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9

Written by iaberis | 24.11.2006


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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