|remastered and restored by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of DisharmonyManilla Road are a legend in their own right. The band that time forgot! Without the shadow of a doubt one of the most innovative American metal bands of all time. In the late 1970’s, Manilla Road practically single-handedly invented what is today called Epic Metal.
Hailed as US Metal pioneers (their debut album »Invasion« was released on their own Roadster label in 1980), the band from Wichita (Kansas) has set the trend for the current renaissance of Epic Power Metal (despite being at best ignored and at worst derided by mainstream metal magazines around the globe for some 25 odd years).
The band’s second album »Metal« was once again issued via Roadster Records (seeing the light of day in 1982). In 1983 Manilla Road put out »Crystal Logic« considered to be their best album ever. This led to a deal with French label Black Dragon Records.
However, not a lot of people know that in 1981 Manilla Road had recorded another album which was supposed to be following the release of »Invasion«. The long lost Manilla Road album called »Dreams Of Eschaton«, now issued in its original form by High Roller Records. The material has been carefully restored and remastered by Patrick W. Engel at his Temple Of Disharmony.
The big question is why Manilla Road decided to record »Metal« and shelving the whole »Dreams Of Eschaton« project back in 1981? “We just did not feel the recording represented the true sound of the band at the time,” remarks Mark “The Shark” Shelton. “The studio we were recording in felt that inline recording technology was the way to go with us and so »Invasion« and »Dreams Of Eschaton« were recorded using analog guitar processors more than amplifiers and speaker cabinets. The same approach was used in the »Dreams Of Eschaton« recording and when it was all said and done I did not feel like the sound of the songs or the recording represented what the music sounded like live. So we put that project to bed so to speak and started working on new recordings using amps and speakers with the volume jacked up like we did it at live shows. That is how the songs ‘Aftershock’, ‘Time Trap’ and ‘Venusian Sea’ were recorded. We never actually made it to the stage of thinking out a cover concept because of deciding not to release the album. So I can’t say what the cover art would have looked like if we had gone ahead and released it back then.”
According to Mark Shelton »Dreams Of Eschaton« is based on a loose concept: “It’s about dreaming of the apocalypse, both, the real possible one and the religious Christian version as well. But it is pretty loose and some songs just don’t even relate to the concept at all.”
“Unfortunately there has never been a really good master recording of this material that survived the years,” explains Mark. “But there was a copy of the demo that was found that sounds amazingly like the original recording sounding to me as I remember it. With this newly found tape along with Patrick Engel’s new mastering the quality has improved greatly from what was released as »Mark Of The Beast« on Monster Records back in 2002.”
Surprisingly, most of the songs of the shelved »Dreams Of Eschaton« album were indeed played live back in the days: “We played most of the songs live for about a year or two and then they sort of drifted off the live set list. We did play ‘Avatar’ in France once when the line-up was Vince Golman on bass and Cory Christner on drums with Bryan singing it. There is a youtube video of this on our Manilla Road youtube page if you care to check it out.”
So what would Mark say, does he consider »Dreams Of Eschaton« to be a full Manilla Road album, which just did not make it to be officially released in 1981, or is it rather an experiment/a collection of demos in his eyes? “I would consider it to be a bit of both,” is his straight answer. “It was a full album which was originally going to be called »Dreams Of Eschaton« and with the other songs added, which were actually recorded as demo songs, then it becomes sort of that collection that you speak of as well.“