Manilla Road and Absu Headline A Two-For-One Show at Red 7
Manilla Road has roots as old as most of the NWOBHM bands that helped define heavy metal as we know it. Somewhat under the radar, the group didn’t popularize metal to the extent of Mercyful Fate, Venom, Iron Maiden and Manowar. However, as noted by the die-hard fans, knowledge fans who attended the group’ rare performance on the last night of Chaos in Tejas 2013, Manilla Road surely put its stamp on heavy metal. One fan pointed out how the group influenced Candlemass and even held the door open for Candlemass to enter this world.
Manilla Road’s reluctance to tour surely kept them out of the above bands’ spotlight. They are a cult act. It was for this very reason many showed up for tonight’s show. Red 7’s dual stages offered a tremendous package with Texas’ own USBM instigators Absu playing on the indoor stage. The night was spent walking back and forth between the two stages. The indoor stage’s overcrowding mixed with humid temperatures resulted in, what felt like, a twenty-degree temperature difference.
Before shirts dripped with perspiration, Anhedonist brought the doom slow and agonizing. Their spiraling, funereal rhythms presented the perfect sound track to accompany a heat stroke. Fortunately, slumbering tempos and early placing on the bill kept the crowd from such a harrowing experience. The band’s rumbling music over powered the voice of V.B. His voice is part of the band’s atmosphere, though, low in the mix and indistinguishable. Guitarist K.H. was also of note for being a female. Her earthly style recalls the band’s Washington home base look. Additionally, she was one of the few ladies at a venue seriously unbalanced in the ratio of inees to outees.
Conservers of classic heavy metal, Eternal Champion opened the breezy outdoor stage. The members of Venomous Maximus who were billed as part of the group couldn’t play the show, but former Iron Age member Jason Tarpey manned the mic with confidence. Fitted in gauntlet armbands and a patch-covered jean jacket, Tarpey’s voice resembled Manilla Road’s Hellroadie in pitch and emotion. This was no coincidence, as Tarpey proclaimed Manilla Road as his favorite band. Eternal Champion played a set mired in epic heavy metal. Keep an eye on this new band.
Speedwolf’s Motorhead-esque approach served as the perfect go between for punks and metal heads. Metal Underground.com was particularly excited to finally watch the Denver band play since they dropped off our SXSW sponsored new school thrash metal show that was relegated to a garage show. Speedwolf’s sound, as noted earlier, was exactly what the crowd needed to get moving. While many in the audience came to bang limbs, a good portion of the crowd sought to bang bodies. Even though the night’s performance was just a couple days shy of their tour’s end, the group’s firsts were of iron and voice was as gritty as a chain-smoking, leather faced waitress.
Fuzz rocker masters Satan’s Satyrs and Japanese black thrashers, Abigail presented a dilemma between the two stages. While we made sure to scope out some of Abigail’s thrash-tastic set, the cool breeze kept us on the side of stoner rock. Inspired by punk (the guitarist wore a Black Flag shirt), stoner rock, Satan and bikers, Satan’s Satyr’s were a tube amp player’s paradise. From the vintage tones to the spaced out pedal solos, Satan’s Satyrs were an exciting watch, even if their sound didn’t relate as well live as on vinyl.
Two minutes to midnight (actually fifteen, but two minutes sounds more metal) and Manilla Road began a two-hour journey into tales of witches, magical hammers, knights, sorcerers, cities of the dead and other fantastic topics culled from thirty-plus year of releases. Mark Shelton welcomed the crowd with a volley of riffs and small string acrobatics as the band kicked off their set with the Edgar Allen Poe-based track “Masque of the Red Death.” Singer Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick and Shelton alternated aggressive, semi-death vocals with soaring, clean tones.
At around the fifteen-minute mark of Manilla Road’s set, Absu took the stage for a ninety-minute set. The crowded room’s temperatures helped us fully realize the climate of the ancient desert settings in Proscriptor’s songs. A line of hair whipped to-and-fro in synchronized fashion as the band played at jaw-dropping speeds. Of course, the punks moshed furiously and stage dived. Set highlights include a track from their death metal days taken from their “Barathrum: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” album and the spell binding verses of “Manannán.”
After a couple of impressive songs, we headed back outside for more of old school metal. The group played songs from throughout its career but focused on songs such from their recent album “Mysterium,” second album reissue “Metal” and celebrated the 30th year of “Crystal Logic” The crowd clapped during the melodic parts of “Cage of Mirrors.” Hellroadie walked through the crowd singing “Necropolis” before a mob of fans chimed in on his microphone. Clearly the band had caught its second wind and a pit broke out as the group played a particularly fast song.
Manilla Road played a legendary set and lived up to their hype. We salute Timmy Hefner for creating another year of amazing shows at Chaos in Tejas. We experienced four days of tremendous musical acts, but the final day was the grandest of all.
Manilla Road’s set list is as follows:
Masque of the Red Death
Death by the Hammer
Hammer of the Witches
The Grey God Passes
Stand Your Ground
Open the Gates
Road of the Kings
Only the Brave
Cage of Mirrors
Queen of the Black Coast
The Riddle Master
Flaming Metal Systems
Up from the Crypt
Heavy Metal to the World
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