After Midnight Live

Manilla Road

When you're taught that a band like MANILLA ROAD holds the eternal sceptre in the […]
By Grigoris Chronis
July 27, 2010
Manilla Road - After Midnight Live album cover

When you're taught that a band like MANILLA ROAD holds the eternal sceptre in the American Epic Metal field, then by no means can you imagine this Wichita, Kansas based outfit flirted with progressive/psychedelic Hard Rock in its early carnation. Creating endless frenzy among primitive Power Metal fans with their 1983-1987 discography mainly (let's say this period from 1983's "Crystal Logic" to 1987's "Mystification" needs a golden medal anyway), the Mark Shelton-centered trio has enough history going back to the mid-to-late 70s. This 'live' recording, brought courtesy of Shadow Kingdom Records, pictures those early days.

The story goes as follows: after having recorded their "Underground" 3-song demo (fifty copies were made) prior to sending the master tapes to the pressing plant for the "Invasion" debut LP (it's late 1979 we're talking about), the band was invited to perform live, on the air, at the KMUW Radio studios for a show called "After Midnight". Behind this broadcast Shevvy Avett was the project manager also helping a lot for the development of the Metal 'underground' in Kansas (and to whom Mark Shelton now dedicates this CD release). All in all, the recording tapes of this radio show got lost in the middle and it's now, years and years later, that Mark comes up with the second half of this "After Midnight" show, the first one said to be featuring stuff from the "Invasion" album.

The Shelton/Park/Fisher trio - with Shevvy Avett introducing each song - performs five songs here, with 80% of them being totally unreleased material all these years; "Herman Hill" was included in the 1979 demo and lyrically relates to the 1979 riots taking place in Wichita, Kansas (read more here). With five tunes summing it up to 45 minutes of time someone can predict MANILLA ROAD excess experimentation and diversity here, with a 100% raw sound and some hoarse Shelton eventually delivering the goods. Needless to say, little in common will the Epic Metal warrior find in here, in regards to the songs' musical directions: fans of bans like CACTUS, HAWKWIND, early JUDAS PRIEST, CREAM, RUSH and late 60s/70s-influenced stuff with a Rock 'n' Roll vibe at times. The musicianship is good but not sharp - no overdubs here, of course - and the atmosphere created can drive you closing your eyes and think it's winter 1979 and a new band performs live at your city's Rock station or something. It's not that far...

The "After Midnight Live" CD is value for money for i) MANILLA ROAD core fans that want to have everything from their beloved band, and ii) collectors of the archetypal forms of American Heavy Metal (if names like LEGEND, WINTERHAWK, DUST and CENTAURUS mean something to your LP collection - also out on vinyl via High Roller Records, not to forget). It kinda relates to some of the "Invasion" debut and that's it, in case you'll search for Epic Metal hymns (omitting some moments in "Dream Of Peace", maybe). The - impressive, anyway - cover artwork is a 'trap'...

"After Midnight Live" Track-listing:
  1. Chromaphobia
  2. Life's So Hard
  3. Pentacle Of Truth
  4. Dream of Peace
  5. Herman Hill
Manilla Road Lineup:

Mark Shelton - Guitar, Vocals
Scott Park - Bass
Rick Fisher - Drumss

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