Well, what can you really say about Manilla Road which has not already been said? They are indeed a legend in their own right. Hailed as US Metal pioneers (their debut album "Invasion" was released on their own Roadster label in 1980), the band from Wichita (Kansas) has set the trend for the current renaissance of Epic Power Metal (despite being at best ignored and at worst derided by mainstream Metal magazines around the globe for some 25 odd years).
The original Manilla Road folded back in 1990 after "The Courts of Chaos", only to return with a rather lacklustre comeback album in 2001 called "Atlantis rising". However, on their latest longplayer "Gates of Fire" Mark "The Shark" Shelton and his (new) boys truly show that they are back with a vengeance.
The album was originally released on compact disc via Battle Cry on July 25th 2005. Divided into three parts, Trilogy I: The Frost Giant's Daughter (consisting of three individual tracks), Trilogy II: Out Of The Ashes (consisting of another three numbers) and finally Trilogy III: Gates of Fire (making up the closing three compositions), the album is 72:16 minutes of sheer Epic Metal glory. "Gates of Fire" is a real masterpiece in the typical traditional Manilla Road style and in contrast to "Atlantis rising" and also "Spiral Castle" experimental passages are kept to an absolute minimum. Somehow, compositions like the outstanding up-tempo opener "Riddle of Steel" are going back to the very early albums ("Invasion" and "Metal") - an absolute must for every 80's Manilla Road maniac. Mark Shelton is sharing the vocals (with Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick) on a couple of tracks, which works absolutely fine and adds another dimension to the sound of the band. Mark's guitar work is as unique as ever. Website Metal-Rules.com hit the nail on the head when commenting on the new album: "Manilla Road are continuing to write and record some of the finest Metal there is. If you've never listened to Manilla Road, ‚Gates of Fire' is as good a place as any to start and if you were like me, and were kind of iffy on the idea of a reunited Manilla Road and still haven't checked out any post-reunion albums, get a hold of ‚Gates of Fire' and prepare to be wowed."
"Gates of Fire", the band's 14th overall album (if I counted correctly), was originally released on CD by Battle Cry two years ago. High Roller Records is now proud to announce a very limited de-luxe vinyl issue of one of Manilla Road's best ever records. With artwork by Jowita Kaminska, "Gates of Fire" is a double album in gatefold sleeve including lyrics. Worldwide only 500 copies have been pressed up (on extra-heavy 140 g vinyl), 250 on red and 250 on blue vinyl, thereby rivalling 2001's extraordinary "Mark of the Beast" (Monster Records) both in terms of quality and collectibility ...
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)