Out of the unusual locale of Wichita, Kansas hails Manilla Road, which issued a progressive demo called Underground in 1979 before the Rush-influenced Invasion album on its own Roadster album. The band’s name is hopefully a deliberate misspelling. This album featured the band’s definitive line-up of Scott Park, Mark W. Shelton and Rick Fisher who were all schoolmates with Park being the youngest. Cult Metal Classics would issue this album, and its follow-up, in 2004. The group appeared on Shrapnel’s US Metal Volume 3 compilation with the song Flaming Metal System and gathered some steam in Europe and played with the likes of Krokus and Point Blank in the USA. Open The Gates featured new drummer Randy Foxe and got a good European push. The group’s 1986 album comprise of a trilogy. Mystification was recorded and mastered poorly and was immortalized as such. The result of a tour with label-mates Liege Lord in support of Mystification was Roadkill, which was doctored by the label.
With the advent of the '90s the band broke apart with 1992’s The Circus Maximus being essentially a solo record of Shelton. Apparently, it was meant as such before the record label switched the name to Manilla Road in order to cash in. A little-known 1999 demo called Dreams Of Eschaton was actually bootlegged from 1981, but led to the group’s rebirth. Iron Glory and the band issued an album in 2001. The group was booked for Wacken when Randy Foxe left. The Kansans played Germany’s Bang Your Head festival. By this time, Manilla Road was really Shelton, but accompanied by drummer Scott Peters, singer Bryan Patrick and bassist Mark Anderson. Spiral Castle maintained this line-up minus Patrick with Shelton again taking over the microphone. Dreams Of Eschaton was now officially issued as Mark Of The Beast by Monster Records resulting in two full-lengths from the band in 2002. Gates Of Fire took three years in contrast and featured a new label and new drummer, Cory Christner. This one was a trilogy again. Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick left in 2005, but returned in 2007. Another three years wait - the band was signed to another black label this time Black Lotus, which would soon fail - translated into a new label and Voyager. After Midnight Live was a rough live session unearthed from 1979! Manilla Road was booked for Kansas City Power Metal Fest 2009. Manilla Road would headline the Friday night of the Warriors Of Metal Fest V Open Air on June 29th, 2012 at the Frontier Ranch in Pataskala, Ohio. Shadow Kingdom Records announced the reissue of Manilla Road’s Invasion for November 6th, 2012. It was originally issued in 1980. Manilla Road released its Mysterium album through Shadow Kingdom Records. Randy Foxe filled in on drums with the band at the Up The Hammers festival in Greece in March 2015. After performing at Headbangers Open Air in 2017 Mark "The Shark" Shelton had a heart attack and died at the age of 60.
Over the years, the band had gathered much steam in the heavy metal underground especially endearing fans in Greece and Germany. Shelton’s first school bands dated back to the late '60s.
MANILLA ROAD - AFTER MIDNIGHT LIVE - SHADOW KINGDOM
After Midnight Live is a radio broadcast in which Manilla Road played several of its upcoming songs from its debut Invasion in 1979. That is correct. The recording stems from 1979. It was recorded on High Roller in the LP format before re-appearing on CD through Shadow Kingdom. Unfortunately, the songs are weak, the vocals are weaker and the sound, well, is like a live recording at a radio station. The channels even cut in and out. Much more direly, singer Mark has terrible vocals here. The songs are weak too. Opener Chromaphobia has a few rocking moments, but it is downhill from there with pseudo-progressive passages intermixing with slow songs like Life’s So Hard. The lyrics are also asinine. Lines like “freak of evolution” or “disco queen” or “rock and roll machine” mix and mingle to bad effect. It is notable that, to the best of my knowledge, the band does not repeat these songs for later recordings. The best part of this recording is the KMUW DJ’s voice. Her cool and clinical voice introducing and talking up the live songs is a moment in time. - Anna Tergel