Manilla Road - Invasion
Jammy Hard Rock
6 songs (45:29)
Release year: 1980
Manilla Road
Reviewed by James
Archive review

Ah yes, the true metal legends that are Manilla Road. Still around, and still every bit as metal as ever. And to think it all started here, in 1980, as a weird, spacey hard rock band. This record, and it's follow up, Metal, have been roundly ignored by both band and fan alike over the years (Mark Shelton apparently doesn't enjoy talking about them in interviews). Which is a bit of a shame, as although this isn't a Crystal Logic, or even a Spiral Castle, it's a fairly strong record in it's own right, and an interesting look at a band far removed from the epic metal powerhouse we'd see just a few years later.

Despite coming out at the beginning of the 80s, Invasion takes it's cues from the hard rock of the 70s, with a big helping of Rush. The bass twangs high in the mix in imitation of Geddy Lee, while Mark Shelton solos in the rough, sloppy yet brilliant style of a young Alex Lifeson. Drummer Rick Fisher isn't quite Neil Peart, mind, but his subdued, jazzy style is an interesting contrast with later sticksman Randy “Thrasher” Foxe. Most of the songs seem to be half guitar soloing, but the band seem to be having enough fun that you won't really care.

But now that we've established that there'll be none of the dragon-smiting fare of later works, how does Invasion hold up? Well, this is a band very much in their infancy, and the likes of Far Side Of The Sun (the only track here destined not to fade into obscurity) are chimp simple compared to Fall Of Illiam. Every song seems to revolve around a roughly knocked out couple of verses and choruses, before spiralling off into an extended guitar rave-up. Although this sounds like the kind of self-indulgence that would make Dream Theater blush, the garagey production gives the endearing impression that we've walked in on a young band having the time of their lives. Which we are, of course.

I'm not doing a very good job of talking up this album, and I must admit I'm awarding more points for effort and atmosphere than actual musical quality. But there's enough headbanging, air guitaring moments here to far outweigh the half-formed songs. There's even a few laughs along the way. The Spinal Tap-esque English accent Mark Shelton adopts on The Empire is foolhardy genius, while I dare anyone not to raise a smile at the booming “HEAVY METAL!” voice-over on Street Jammer. Invasion may not be for everyone, it's far too messy for that, but for fans looking for something fresh from their heroes, this is a must-have. The band would expand on this aspects of their sound further with the criminally shelved Mark Of The Beast, and I'd recommend that particular release to anyone who enjoyed Invasion. It may scare off potential newcomers to Manilla Road, but I assure you, it gets a lot better from here on out.

Killing Songs :
Far Side Of The Sun, The Empire
James quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Manilla Road that we have reviewed:
Manilla Road - The Blessed Curse reviewed by Andy and quoted 83 / 100
Manilla Road - Mysterium reviewed by Andy and quoted 79 / 100
Manilla Road - Playground of the Damned reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Manilla Road - Into The Courts Of Chaos reviewed by James and quoted 84 / 100
Manilla Road - Out Of The Abyss reviewed by James and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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