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Hellwell: Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin

Album Review

Manilla Road frontman takes a hard left turn

This much-anticipated side-project featuring Manilla Road mainman Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton and collaborator EC Hellwell, among others, is described by Mark as “Manilla Road’s evil twin”. So, if you find Manilla Road’s brand of obscure, labyrinthine metal tough to take, Hellwell will be sheer hell.

Infused with gothic horror atmospheres and laden with groaning, 70s-style hard-rock organ, it’s an oddball, off-the-wall creature that requires and rewards repeated listens. Almost nothing Mark’s ever put his name to could be described as ‘instant’, but these nebulous tales of mystery and imagination demand even more effort than your average Manilla album. 

Although more varied than most of Mark’s other outings, the keys are the main thing that makes this more than just Manilla Road by another name. They’re ladled on thick and constantly, parping away behind Mark’s trademark tangle of guitar riffs like the soundtrack to an evil merry-go-round. The production’s a bit thin and it’s no real substitute for Manilla Road, but MR fans should definitely check this out.

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