Feb 102013

This caught me by surprise.  I was taking one last, fast look around the internet before crawling into bed last night and happened to see a blurb that Manilla Road had released a new album for streaming and download on Bandcamp. Its name is Mysterium. The last I knew, it had been projected for release on February 19, but the debut clearly has been accelerated.

This is Manilla Road’s 16th full-length album in a career that goes back more than 30 years. But as someone who turned to metal relatively late in life, I missed most of that career, and really only started learning about them through my interest in Mark “The Shark” Shelton’s Hellwell project, which released an excellent debut album last year by the name of Beyond the Boundaries of Sin (featured here).

As I write this, I’ve only just begun listening to the album, but I sure am intrigued by what I’m hearing. This is, of course, a departure from the Rule around here — but even though the singing is clean, much of it still sounds evil. And the guitar performances are head-spinning (check out the fire-breathing solo on “Stand Your Ground”, for example). I’m digging the rough guitar tone, too. I’m even digging “The Battle of Bonchester Bridge”, which is pure old-school ballad, with another riveting guitar solo.

I’ll shut up now, schedule this post to appear on Sunday morning, and go back to listening to this album — which you can also do right after the jump. Continue reading »

Sep 032012

Here’s another daily round-up of metal things I saw and heard this morning that I thought were worth sharing. Fair warning: there is clean singing in the first two items, but it’s counter-balanced by harsh vocals and an overlay of darkness.


I came to metal relatively late in life. I’ve devoted a lot of effort catching up on what I missed in the decades preceding my initiation. One of the bands I missed was Wichita-based Manila Road, though judging from the enthusiasm that greeted our report about the band’s scheduled appearance at MARYLAND DEATHFEST 2013, it seems many of our readers are quite familiar with them.

This item, however, is not about Manila Road. It’s about a side project created by Manila Road’s Mark “The Shark” Shelton. The band is called Hellwell, the album is named Beyond the Boundaries of Sin, and it will be released this month by High Roller Records and Shadow Kingdom Records — though it’s already up on Bandcamp. Shelton describes it as “like Manilla Road’s evil twin”, with a sound that resembles “a cross between Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, early Metallica and Manilla Road.”

The band is named after Ernest “Ernie” Cunningham Hellwell, who Shelton says is a writer of horror-themed fiction and plays keyboards, synthesizers, and bass on Hellwell’s debut album. I am somewhat skeptical about whether Hellwell is a real person as opposed to the alter ego of someone else, because I can find nothing about him in my net sleuthing, either as a writer or as a musician.

In any event, I was attracted to the music by the awesome cover art (above) by Alexander von Wieding, and this morning I listened to about half of the album on Bandcamp. Continue reading »