Article written by Daniel McCormick
In James Howell’s 1660 Lexicon Tetraglotton one finds the proverb, “When thou hast made a turd leave it.” – advice not heeded by Manilla Road on The Blessed Curse. The biggest issues are twofold: length, and creativity. Yet, had brevity been a predilection, there’s little saving grace, even considering the august bloodline. I must admit that within the first minute thirty I was well prepared to hit stop and attempt to return my album. This is not to say that the music is performed sloppily, or that it’s lacking in merits altogether, but the substance of the music rarely rises above the common or generic, and it comes across more as embryonic than as a well crafted communicative device. It is as if this double album were a construct built from a month of jamming in a rehearsal room.
Therefore, I find this to be the type of album which would have greatly benefited from the group spending another year grinding away, incubating and contriving, and instead of 99 minutes of overextension a consistent 28 minutes could have been wrought. I’ll grant there are well layered harmonies (“Tomes of Clay”), vocally and otherwise, and there is some catchy structuring (“Kings of Invention”), but there is nothing to be found here exceedingly worthy of praise. This sentiment is exemplified by the lyrics, and the odd free form approach taken, because even stanza to stanza there’s a lack of cohesive narrative that leaves the listener lost to define direct intent, outside of cheesy throwaway lines. The vocals present these lyrics with a unique presence, but it is of little benefit when you consider the diminutive range and how the patterns do little to add dynamic qualities. In short, a dearth of vibrance.
This album had great potential to appeal to my tastes, with its folk leanings and rough production, and traditional metal approach, but that was an illusion dissolved like skin drenched in hydrofluoric acid. The folk aspects on this album come across as pop sap (“The Muses Kiss”) in most regards. The production is very well the best quality to my ear, in so much as it presents a purer, retro, feel. The traditional metal approach, though, is very much hit and miss – the verse chorus style grows old quickly when there is too little creativity at base. I suppose I am not so much disappointed as I am confused as to why this was so well received by so many. Perhaps I’ll never understand that. I simply conclude this album was intended for die hard fans who would have been happy with anything, and I do not recommend it.
Tags: 2015, american heavy metal, manilla road, power metal, the blessed curse
4 thoughts on “Manilla Road – The Blessed Curse (2015)”
Not sure where you are getting your information from, but this album was far from well received. In fact it may be their worst record ever, and the buzz for it was nonexistent. Their previous two were pretty solid.
There are numerous reviews online praising this album. Search google and you might be surprised.
Yeah, this is one of their stinkers. Still better than “Book of Souls” though. Hardly matters, Manilla Road is one of my pocket book bands. Anything new, wallet comes out and I give them my money.
I like it. It fits in their catalog just fine for me. It sounds very good, perhaps Midgard Studios best sound to date.
Shelton’s guitar work really impresses. I haven’t heard solos like these before.
Subject matter I love! Each MR album is about the subject matter and this time the subject is as follows:
ABANDON THE CURRENT LIES AND RETURN TO THE ANCIENT WISDOM
To me this is kind of like Nordland 1 and 2. A wise album. Not about exciting adrenaline but encouraging one to consider and ponder. Recognize bullshit and go to the source.
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