Manilla Road 'Playground Of The Damned' review

'Playground Of The Damned'
(High Roller Records - LP / Shadow Kingdom Records - CD)

Here’s an interesting scenario for ya, a new power metal album that actually sounds like a metal album, rather than a fan-made soundtrack to the 'Lord Of the Rings' movies. How refreshing!
Manilla Road definitely air on the much heavier side of power metal, often crossing over into mid-paced thrash territory, and indeed most of the music on this album is not very fast at all, but still brings many epic hooks, driving melodies, and blazing solos, as shown quite clearly on the opening track, “Jackhammer” and in excellent fashion in “Abattoir De La Mort.”
The second track, “Into the Maelstrom” is slow and heavy enough to make the best doom bands jealous. It’s quite a stretch to even put this one in the power metal category. The title track brings some speed back though, introducing some awesome riffs, and a fantastic, memorable chorus that really sticks. However, by the time I got to this track, it came to my attention that the vocals could be quite sub-par, and are best described as dull, with a very uninspired delivery, despite the powerful hooks and vocal melodies.
This continues throughout the album, with some songs definitely proving to be better than others vocally. “Grindhouse” begins with an amazing intro that really got me excited to hear more, but only managed to disappoint with some overly repetitious riffing and some unimaginative and lackadaisical vocals. Freakin amazing solo though.
Overall, 'Playground of the Damned' is decent, with many moment of strength and weakness alike. Lots of great melodies and solos make for an interesting listen (“Brethren of the Hammer”), but it can also be quite repetitive, and tends to drag along at times. All in all, I recommend checking it out, for I feel that this album is especially subjective. [7]
(Andrew Oliver)



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