Hail to all ye Brethren of the Hammer,
Shark here with a long overdue update and tales from the Road. I can promise you though that any time I am absent from the web I am locked away in the studio working on new music, rehearsing with my mates or on the road playing live. It has been a lot of hard work that has been poured into what is going on with us now days but I feel all the long nights and long airplane rides are paying off. The amount and caliber of work going on in Midgard Sound Labs is astonishing even to me right now. I have dreamed all my life of having my own studio and touring the world and thanks to all of you brethren of the hammer…Roadsters you might say, I am living that dream this very moment. My eternal thanks and love goes out to all of you. May the lords of light be with you all. Now that being said I would like to let you into the circle for a bit and shed some light onto what is happening on the front lines.
First of all work has continued on another Hellwell project and I am very happy with the outcome so far. More about that at a later date but for now I wish to talk Road matters. As you might know already, this being the year 2013, it is the 30th anniversary of the release of Crystal Logic. This album has been referred to, by many, as our most shining and classic moment when it comes to our discography. I’m not sure that I personally agree with that but it still, even 30 years later, feels like a really good album to me. I think the song Cage of Mirrors, from the Metal album, was the first breath of life into the style of epic chaos that would develop into the true Manilla Road sound. Crystal Logic is definitely the project that we started to actually define the approach though. It was the first time that we really incorporated more of a doom approach to some of the works although once again there is a tinge of that doom sound within Cage of Mirrors at times. Black Sabbath was a huge influence on us all back in those days and that is exactly where some of that style of Manilla’s music came from. Crystal Logic was sort of a defining statement from the band and definitely a look into the future of the epic style that the band would adopt. Most assuredly more headstrong and less dreamy than our earlier works like Invasion or Mark of the Beast with Metal being sort of a crossover between the two directions. Once I had written the material for Crystal Logic the quest for faster and heavier soon took over. Now the thing that truly continues to amaze me is how this band has managed throughout all of our albums to still maintain a little bit of each different style of music we have ever delved into. It has always been of my mind to experiment with music and never fall into the pit of only one style. So it fascinates me that after all the member changes and different approaches to style with our music that we still always seem to sound like no other band and are easily recognized as Manilla Road. Ok now I am babbling hahaha.
Being the 30th anniversary of Crystal Logic we decided along with some of our promoter friends to treat this year with a few special shows with Rick Fisher (drummer on Crystal Logic) doing the whole Crystal Logic album live for the first time in 29 years. So it was off to the Metal Assault festival in Germany we went. We started the show with Rick doing the entire Crystal Logic album song for song as they appeared on the original album release. We then brought Neudi on stage and finished out the rest of the 3 hour show with him killing it on the drums. We also had a very special guest singer on Flaming Metal Systems in Crystal Viper’s own Marta Gabriel and man she has one killer set of pipes. It was a great honor having her join us on the stage. And a special thanks to all of you that came to that show you all ruled the night. The other bands that played before us were all great also and it was really cool hooking up with the guys in Raven since they have been doing it since before MR by a few years. Good to see those guys still kicking up some dust. They put on a really good show. I felt for them because they were delayed on the road by bad weather and made it to the venue just minutes before they had to take the stage. I have admired Raven from way back in the day and it was great to share the stage with them. It was just simply a really fun and killer time for all of us. Oliver always puts on great festivals and all of metaldom is lucky to have him out there making events like this happen for all of us. Thanks mate. Well we could not just leave the anniversary end there so while back in the states in Wichita we decided to throw in on a show with another band called Betterlate also from Wichita. This was just this last weekend at the Port of Wichita and it was a huge success and a blast. The show was sold out and we are always taken care of really well at this club. Scotty has been a close friend for many years and thanks to him we always have a class place to play in Wichita. We started the show with an acoustic set much like the one we did in Germany before the Metal Assault Festival at our Mysterium release party. Can you believe it there was caviar there. Well back in Wichita (haha) we had some very special guests playing with us in this entire show. Gianluca Silvi (of Doomsword, Battle Ram and Jotenheim) played classic guitar. Kostas Tzortzis (of BattleroaR) also joined us during the acoustic set. Bringing a little bit of the talent of Italy and Greece to Wichita was a rare opportunity for everyone at the show. Josh Castillo also played with us and Bryan Patrick helped on back up vocals. We also had another special guest come up and play with us on the song The Fountain which was the drummer for Hellwell Jonny “Thumper” Benson on acoustic guitar. So there was a mess of us doing this acoustic thing and funny enough it actually worked out really good and sounded pretty damn good. Besides finishing off the set with Fountain we did Mystification, the first Book of Skelos, Love is Cruel, Behind the Veil and we also did a version of The Wanderer which I co-wrote with BattleroaR and recorded with them for the album Age of Chaos. It was great playing with all of those guys but the fun was just beginning and the electrics came out. First Rick Fisher joined us for the entire Crystal Logic album including the bonus track Flaming Metal Systems and a bit of a guitar solo. We then did Cage of Mirrors and Queen of the Black Coast. We finished the set with Rick with Far Side of the Sun to a packed house of avid Roadsters. But if that was not enough reminiscing we then had Randy “Thrasher” Foxe come up and play with us. Everyone had stepped away from the stage and gone outside for a smoke while we changed the drums around a bit for Randy but as soon as we started up with The Ninth Wave the club filled up to the maximum capacity again. Rick had just done a great job with us making it hard for anyone to follow but Thrasher was more than up to the calling bringing The Ninth alive like I have not heard it for ages. We then proceeded onto Dig Me No Grave and we finished up with a blasting version of Haunted Palace. Randy still has it and he proved it that night. It was a great honor to have all these guys playing with the Road. Like I said before…living the dream. It was a great night for all of us I think. Betterlate finished off the night with a great set of original progressive metal songs that are totally cool. Randy Foxe (Manilla Road), Greg Marshall (Stygian Shore), Chuck Good (Initial Impact), along with bass extraordinaire Al Sigars and one hell of a drummer Ron Gilbert make up this band and I hope they keep working on recordings so that everyone can hear this stuff. Both experiences in Germany and then the show we just had here in Kansas have been fantastic times for Manilla Road and I can’t wait to get back out on the road again because we have a lot of places to play where we have not tread yet.
I guess last but not least is that Mysterium has been out for a bit now and seems to have primarily really good reviews. And everyone seems to agree that our production efforts this time have paid off. I’m really proud of this album and there is work already being done on the next MR album. We hope to be tracking drums in May in Midgard. We have a lot of touring coming up this year so work on all these projects we have going on will be done as time permits but I hope to have some more killer stuff ready to release before the year is out. Last year was a great one for Hellwell and Manilla Road and it seems that this year is looking pretty bright also. As always a hearty Up The Hammers & Down The Nails and watch Walking Dead and Vikings they both bloody well rule.