In 2020, Knight & Gallow from Sacramento, California, belonged to the hottest newcomers in our scene. Their debut Men of the West was one of our favourite epic heavy metal EPs released last year. Against this background, you won’t be surprised that we wanted to include those highly talented guys in our Manilla Road Special. That’s why we’re really glad that Knight & Gallow vocalist, lyricist and main songwriter Nick Chambers was available for our project. Have a good read!
Would you classify Manilla Road as an important source of inspiraton for your music?
I would definitely consider Manilla Road as one of the main sources of inspiration for my band Knight & Gallow and its formation. If I could point out a specific point, it would be after Mark Shelton’s passing. I had written the first Knight & Gallow track «Men of the West» which is inspired by Shelton‘s rhythm playing and epic tones used to tell an amazing epic story.
Can you point out a special moment that you experienced with Manilla Road?
Sitting down and listening to Crystal Logic for the first time was definitely a highlight, after the outro of «Dreams of Eschaton» I immediately thought where the hell has this band been all my life.
What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?
Manilla Road is special because of their songwriting, performances and ability to tell an epic story while still sounding like themselves even when they add other influences into their sound. It’s still Manilla Road and a big part of that is Mark’s songwriting and vision for the band.
What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?
Whittling it down to three is hard, but I’d have to say, in no order:
- Crystal Logic
- Open the Gates
- Mystification (or The Deluge, sorry three is hard)
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road album in your opinion?
Voyager gets overlooked a lot but it’s definitely a highlight for me because of its strange almost death metal influence. It’s a real fun ride from beginning to end.
What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?
In no order:
- «Divine Victim»
- «Open the Gates»
- «Dreams of Eschaton»
- «Masque of the Red Death»
What’s the most underrated Manilla Road track in your opinion?
Anything off of Voyager.
Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?
«Astronomica» to me sounds like something meant for a movie and would provide a perfect backdrop for a fantasy movie. It gives me chills hearing the lyrics because it sounds like a warrior who can’t escape his fate, and lyrics like that tend to resonate a bit more with me than describing badass things, although we can all appreciate a song or fifty about badass warriors or sorcerers doing their thing.
What’s your favourite solo/lead played by Mark Shelton?
That’s like choosing favorite children, but without being stereotypical, I gotta talk about «Necropolis» at least once, because the solo in «Necropolis» is the epitome of what 80s guitar solos should sound like and is the reason I got into Manilla Road.
How would you define the term «epic metal»?
Epic metal to me is power metal with balls. The music is heavier and more in line with traditional metal and doom metal than power metal. Both genres have lyrics about epic stories of «Sword and Sorcery» but epic metal does it in a way that puts riffs and solos over being overly melodic. In other words power metal is Prince Charming and epic metal is Conan the Barbarian.
Are there any young bands inspired by Manilla Road that you appreciate?
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any, but Eternal Champion, Visigoth, Gatekeeper and Throne of Iron are the first that come to mind.
What do you generally think of Manilla Road‘s legacy and the current epic metal scene?
Bands like Manilla Road or Cirith Ungol have their place as cult bands and to me I think that’s beautiful because it’s something you have to find out for yourself, you don’t see their cds and shirts at Walmart, it’s something you have to look for and when you find a Manilla Road album in a record store, you have to pick it up because it’s something special to you. When someone sees my Manilla Road back patch we get into an hour long conversation about Manilla Road, that’s something not too many bands have, bands today still pay tribute to them and will still pay tribute to them thirty years later and to see the crazy effect they’ve had on the underground metal scene today is unreal, seems like every month we get a new Manilla Road and I honestly can’t complain.