Manilla Road have been about in numerous guises since the late 1970s. The sole remaining original member, Mark "The Shark' Shelton continues to drive the band forward. Now, I'm not particularly familiar with their sound, but one listen to their latest release, To Kill A King provides immediate confirmation. The band sit firmly in the Cirith Ungol/Manowar epic fantasy metal camp. The title track opens the album, a soaring riff setting the scene before the song commences its 10 minute journey, a calm setting belying the rage to come.
Time changes a plenty, rolling drums and a clipped vocal style narrating the story before Shelton's superb guitar work takes centre stage. Conquerer is almost BLS in style and delivery whilst The Arena is a thrashy power trip. To Kill A King comprises many elements of the metal scene, thrash, progressive and old school. It's certainly worth catching a copy of a band who have been on the scene for over 40 years. 7/10
Pristine: Ninja (Nuclear Blast)
First impressions count. Norwegian psychedelic outfit Pristine create a good one. Opening album number four is You Are The One, and immediately comparisons are made with their neighbours The Blues Pills. Ironically Pristine have been around much longer, and their blend of alternative rock, blues and psychedelia is delivered incredibly well. This is a band that has been together for some time and has gelled well. Lead singer Heidi Solheim is the driving force, being the main writer and lyricist since the band's inception.
Tracks like The Parade and the Hammond heavy title track would warm the coldest heart with their honesty and passion. Solheim possesses hell of a voice, very much in the Elin Larrson and Lynne Jackaman style. It's not all blues rock though, with some of the more delicate tunes such as the delicious Forget which change tack completely amongst the most memorable. A discovery this year for sure. A real find. 8/10
Nekromant: Snakes & Lies (Transubstans Records)
Having listened to about three minutes of Snakes & Lies was ample time to identify yet another Swedish stoner doom outfit. Very much in the vein of The Sword and many others, the raggar-doom, as it's categorised is the product of a powerful trio, Adam Lundqvist, Mattias Ottosson and Joakim Olsson. Previously known as Serpent, there is a huge Sabbath/Pentagram sound on several tracks including opener Funeral Worship with a filthy riff which the dark lord Tony Iommi himself would enjoy. There is much to enjoy here if you like all things Sabbath, such as the riff from A National Acrobat which has a fleeting appearance on the rampaging Mardrom. Ultimately, it's the final track, Spelmannen, sung in their native tongue which provides the standout song on an album that is well worth a listen to. 8/10
Adrenaline Mob: We The People (Century Media)
This is album number four by the supergroup originally formed by Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, Mike Portnoy and guitarist Mike Orlando back in 2011. The current line up includes Allen, Orlando and new members Jordan Cannata on drums and bassist David Zablidowsky. 13 tracks of hard, heavy and bombastic American metal, with a massive sound which allows Allen to show his chops. It's hard radio friendly metal in its composition with stomping bass lines, shredding guitars and angst ridden vocals. Orlando is on fine form, especially on the title track. Easy listening if you like your metal hard, heavy, dripping with hooks and not too complicated. 7/10