In this installment of Under the Radar, we’re going to take a look at some rad trad metal. Welp, “rad trad metal” is something that should never be seen in print again. Satan are legends in their own right for releasing the cult classic NWOBHM album Court in the Act, which is one of the genre’s finest moments. Manilla Road are the U.S.’s best kept secret, with Mark Shelton helping to birth the epic metal tag and releasing a catalog of incredible albums. Let’s jump in!
Satan, Life Sentence
There’s something about these dudes and law. They’re cheeky references to courtrooms and the justice system are odd to say the least, but it’s pretty fun. After a 26-year gap between albums, many were skeptical that the band would tarnish their reputation by releasing some sterile, overproduced, bullshit album.
Life Sentence doesn’t sound a day older than 1984. The guitars are pretty raw and the drums sound like actual fucking drums. Whoa! The album is a scorcher from start to finish, boasting some superb songs like “Twenty Twenty Five,” “Testimony,” “Life Sentence,” and “Another Universe.”
The leads are quick and flashy, the tempo is fast, and singer Brian Ross doesn’t seem to have aged whatsoever. If you’re a fan of NWOBHM then this album is another essential release from the band.
Manilla Road, Mysterium
Manilla Road are one of the most consistent bands in the genre and guitarist and former frontman Mark Shelton is one of the most underrated guitarists in the metal genre. The dude shreds. Shelton was never a strong singer, but always had a charm to his nasally tone. When the decision came to step away from the mic, Shelton chose Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick to front the band, probably because he sounds exactly like Shelton.
Mysterium continues in vein of the band’s mid- to late-1980s output and strays from the more epic writing of the new millennium records. “Stand Your Ground,” “Only the Brave,” and “Hallowed Be Thy Grave” sound just like classic Manilla Road.
Of course, there is an epic song on here like almost all of their albums, being the title track. However, it falls short of some of the band’s other lengthier compositions. Regardless, Manilla Road are here to stay and we should be grateful.
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