The third record of the Obscure-gods from Wichita (if you don't take the recently released, actually third album "Mark Of The Beast") is doubtless one of the most important Epic Metal records ever. Some songs on this album seem not to be out of this world, they have an immense atmosphere, emotions and grapping dramatic. Even though some are amusing about the nasal singing, one thing can't be denied: Mark Shelton is pretty memorable!
In fact, he seems to sing this album with a pretty engorged nose - but to be honest, what would a century song like "Necropolis" be, without this adenoidal vocals? Or take just this great fantasy cover, a masterpiece and looks much better on vinyl, of course... The outstanding songs are naturally the title track, which reminds me somehow of CIRITH UNGOL and also the individual, very strange "The Riddle Master". "The Ram" isn't so strong, but though a great song, which will never belong to the bands' greatest hits, but it is simply good!
But at the end, there are following two of the, probably, very best MANILLA ROAD tracks ever, on one hand "The Veils Of Negative Existence", which is very dragging, doomy and with a Mark Shelton at his best and those final hammer solo, which still provides me a fat goose flesh today! The very last song of this divine record is their cult song "Dreams Of Eschaton", a song, which is better than having sex (and also longer!). Wonderful acoustic guitars build up the ballad-like first part of this epic masterpiece. But soon, the mood changes and the delicate melodies turn into some hard riffs. At the end of the song the mood is changing again and finally we get the redemptive Shelton solo as the climax...
I have to mention that the two weaker tracks, the song "Flaming Metal Systems" (bonus song of the "US Metal III" sampler) is a mediocre but unfitting Rock song and "Feeling Free Again" a totally banal Rock 'n' Roll track - (totally under the level of MANILLA ROAD...) nearly manage it to destroy the whole mood. Normally, you get a bonus track at the end of a CD but the people of Iron Glory cheekily placed it between "Necropolis" and "The Crytsal Logic"... No comment!
And after the great "The Riddle Master", we get "Feeling Free Again". These songs are totally out of place on a Metal disc with such an epic direction. Although I give them all 10 points, because the other songs are extraordinary ingenious and not to surpass, even not from MANILLA ROAD! (Online April 15, 2003)