Not only the voice of Mark Shelton is a bit dishevelled, no, his ears also seem to have seen their best days. The problem is that the godfather of Epic Metal just has to produce the MANILLA ROAD himself. An independent producer definitely would do the whole thing good. Okay, the MANILLA ROAD albums never have been known for a monster sound and the die-hard fan kind of expects this slightly muddy sound.
Be it as it may, "Gates Of Fire" sounds a lot better than its predecessor "Spiral Castle", which even for MANILLA ROAD circumstances has a horrible production. The music itself does not leave much to be desired. OK, the big, big hits such as "Necropolis", "Witches Brew", "Masque Of The Red Death",... are not around this time, but this still is far from being average material, for that Mark Shelton is too gifted of a song writer. The band is a bit more complex, so itíll take some more time to get into the material, but then you will love it even more.
But who am I talking to, the MANILLA ROAD simply fan has and takes the time, right? Who never found the entrance to the band still will shrug their shoulders. For relief singer Bryan (Hellroadie) Patrick this will have been the last band production, as he just quit the band a short time ago. Who likes multi layered music with longevity and charisma, please support MANILLA ROAD (if you havenít done so yet). (Online October 29, 2005)