Review: Manilla Road – The Blessed Curse/After The Muse (Golden Core 2015 2-CD)

This legendary band is back once again with yet another album for us worshipers of their epic and characteristic heavy metal. The last few years have been very productive for them, releasing new albums on a regular basis, which you, as a fan, of course are very thankful for.

 First of all I'm a bit skeptic towards the production. Since the opening title track is a semi acoustic, semi heavy song, the lack of dynamic instantly gets very clear, and it just sounds kind of flat. Compared to their previous album it's definitely a step down, sound wise. But since the reformation of the band in the early 00's, several of their albums have suffered from a weaker production but still have been able to win you over because of the greatness of the songwriting.

 Musically, The Blessed Curse is a very consistent album. As stated above, the title track is some kind of fusion, but beside that, the songs are basically divided into six heavier and three slower numbers. The heavier ones all maintains high quality, Reign Of Dreams being my personal favorite. On the other hand, I think the songwriting sometimes show some signs of being a bit repetitive and tiresome. Maybe it's a consequence of their tight release-schedule. When it comes to the slower ones, I also like them all. At first I thought Tomes of Clay was a bit monotonous, but after hearing it a few times I instead started to love its mystical atmosphere. Falling and the closing The Muses Kiss also keeps me captivated. I don't think any of them really reaches the same heights as songs like Art Of War, The Fountain or Sea Witch though.

 Adding it all up, I would probably say that this is one of their weaker albums since they returned with Atlantis Rising, which might seem a bit of a poor rating, but in fact I hold several of their newer albums (as well as the Hellwell-album) even higher than some of the considered classic ones they released in the 80's. So even though The Blessed Curse isn't one of their strongest efforts, it's still another overall great album that won't let any of their fans down. 

 I should also mention that the album also includes a bonus disc, entitled After The Muse, which offers some acoustic songs. Some of them really good, but what steals all the attention is definitely the plus 10 minutes monstrous All Hallow's Eve. An old rehearsal track from back in 1981 of a song that was forgotten but somehow survived, and thank god for that. What a song. I even think I would dare to say that it's on the top 10 of their best songs ever, witch says quite a lot when we're talking about this band. Sadly, they ran out of tape before they had finished the song, but a re-recording from last year is also featured on the bonus-CD. So if a new album by the masters themselves isn't enough to convince you to buy this release, All Hallow's Eve will eliminate any hesitation. 8/10

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