Manilla Road was created by Shelton in 1977 with high school friends Benny Munkirs, Rick Fisher and brothers Robert and Scott Park. After playing in local bars, the group first gained attention with their song “Herman Hill,” inspired by the Herman Hill riot. Their first album Invasion was released in 1980 on the band’s own label, Roadster Records. Between this time and their next release the band recorded material for an album to be titled The Dreams Of Eschaton, however this was not released until 2002 (under the name Mark of the Beast) as they were not happy with the sound. Shelton has been quoted as saying the music was “not metal enough” and “sounded like shit.” Despite this Mark of the Beast was critically well received when it was eventually released. These early albums have more in common with progressive rock and proto-heavy metal than the band’s later heavier speed/thrash metal sound.
The next five Manilla Road albums (along with a live release, “Roadkill”) featured new drummer Randy Foxe, who had more of a thrash-oriented style than original drummer Rick Fisher. Along with Crystal Logic, the new lineup’s first two albums, Open the Gates and The Deluge, are generally considered to be classics in the field of heavy metal. It was on these three albums that Manilla Road’s style became fully formed. Lyrics typically feature fantastic elements from Norse mythology, Arthurian legend or other literary sources. These are often combined in one setting, the concept album Atlantis Rising, for example, features a war between the Æsir and Cthulhu, centered on the city of Atlantis.
Mystification suffered from exceptionally poor production resulting from the substandard equipment at a new studio the band hoped would improve their sound. The recent re-release has fixed this problem to a large extent. After Mystification came Out of the Abyss, widely criticised at the time for its thrash metal influences. The band released one more album, The Courts of Chaos (described by Shelton as “the first true Manilla Road masterpiece”) before splitting up.
The Circus Maximus and hiatus
In 1992 Mark Shelton recorded The Circus Maximus with Aaron Brown and Andrew Coss. Despite having never been intended as a Manilla Road project, the album was released under this name at the record company’s insistence. After this incident, Mark Shelton went on hiatus for nearly a decade.
Manilla Road reformed and released Atlantis Rising in 2001, again with Mark Shelton as the only original member. On this occasion, however, the sound was much more consistent with the Manilla Road of old and it was the band who decided to continue using the name. Their latest albums were Spiral Castle, released in 2002, Gates Of Fire in 2005, and Voyager in 2008. A European tour took place in 2012.
In 2007, Manilla Road was honored by Solemnity Music in Germany with the release of The Riddle Masters: A Tribute to Manilla Road. This double-disc release contains songs from 18 bands from all over the world playing their versions of Manilla Road classics.
The son of the original rhythm guitarist, Robert Park, started an alternative rock band in 2002, The Canadian Lawyers. The Canadian Lawyers’ rhythm guitarist is also Scott Park’s nephew.
In 1998, the Greek edition of Metal Hammer magazine released an unofficial compilation entitled, Live by the Sword – The Very Best of Manilla Road. However, this was compiled without the band’s involvement or consent, and is therefore considered to be a bootleg recording.
- Invasion – 1980
- Metal – 1982
- Crystal Logic – 1983
- Open the Gates – 1985
- The Deluge – 1986
- Mystification – 1987
- Roadkill – 1988 (live)
- Out of the Abyss – 1988
- The Courts of Chaos – 1990
- The Circus Maximus – 1992 (Shelton solo project)
- Atlantis Rising – 2001
- Spiral Castle – 2002
- Mark of the Beast – 2002 (recorded in 1981)
- Gates of Fire – 2005
- Voyager – 2008
- After Midnight Live – 2009 (recorded live, on the air, at KMUW radio studios in 1979)
- Playground of the Damned – 2011
- Mysterium – 2013
- The Blessed Curse – 2015
- To Kill a King – 2017
- “Manilla Road – discography, line-up, biography, interviews, photos”. Spirit-of-metal.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- “Manilla Road – Biography”. Metal Storm. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- “Manilla Road – Crystal Logic (album review 2)”. Sputnikmusic. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- “Manilla Road – Live By The Sword – The Very Best Of Manilla Road (CD) at Discogs”. Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- “Manilla Road – Mark Shelton Passes Away”. MetalStorm. July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
- “Manilla Road-Gitarrist Mark Shelton gestorben”. Metal Hammer (in German). July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
- Michels, Alexandra (July 27, 2018). “Manilla Road: Mark W. Shelton ist tot”. RockHard (in German). Retrieved July 27,2018.