Manilla Road Special (11): Chris Dagenhart (Mind of Evil)

Today, Chris Dagenhart, founder of US American epic doom metal band Mind of Evil, answers our questions about Manilla Road, Mark Shelton and their legacy for our scene. Have a good read!

Would you classify Manilla Road as an important source of inspiraton for your music?

Inspiration, I feel is the best term for it. Mind of Evil is not directly influenced by Manilla Road per se but we derive a massive amount of inspiration from them. As has been said many times before, Mark Shelton had this wonderful ability to paint worlds of mystery and imagination with his music. Whether ensconced in a sense of dread, wonder, anger, or joy, there is this pervading sense of whimsical fascination that oozes from Manilla Road. That sense of the fantastical, that sense of whimsy, that is the inspiration that Mind of Evil draws on and strives to emulate most in our own music. No one can match the sense of wonder that Mark Shelton could evoke, but it‘s a joy for us to try.

Can you point out a special moment that you experienced with Manilla Road?

A few years ago shortly after we released our first record The House of the Raven we were informed that the sound on that record reminded people of early Manilla Road. At the time, I was a pretty big fan but not a die-hard convert like I am now. We spent some time learning how to play «Necropolis» (because honestly this is probably one of the most fun and easiest songs to play in all of metal) and for a while this was something we would play in practice frequently. In a lot of ways Mark Shelton and Manilla Road helped Mind of Evil forge a tighter identity not just amongst ourselves but in our relation to the greater epic metal / epic doom scene as a whole.

What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?

Whew, what a question. I could ramble on about this for pages and pages. I think I would reference again that sense of the fantastical, that ineffable quality of whimsy that Manilla Road and ONLY Manilla Road seemed to be able to tap into with ease. Therein lies what made them special, they could tap into this mystical source of atmosphere and feeling seemingly at will. Sure, some of us lesser beings and mere mortals sometimes stumble upon that same sense of wonder and whimsy when composing and creating but no other band has ever been able to tap into it so effortlessly and command it so readily.

They could tap into this mystical source of atmosphere and feeling seemingly at will.

What makes Manilla Road special?

What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?

This tends to move around a bit, for example, The Deluge was in the top 3 for years until like last year when Spiral Castle knocked it down a few notches. If I had to break it down now:

  1. Spiral Castle
  2. Atlantis Rising
  3. Crystal Logic

What’s the most underrated Manilla Road album in your opinion?

I think Atlantis Rising. It‘s an album that I’ve seen described time and time again as «uninspired» or just not up to par with their classic stuff, but for me this sits really high up and typically enjoys a spot on my top 5 at any given moment.

What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?

Again, this moves around a good bit, but I’d say at the moment it would look something like this,

  1. «The Veils of Negative Existence»
  2. «Shadow in the Black»
  3. «Road of Kings»
  4. «Sea Witch»
  5. «Mystification»

What’s the most underrated Manilla Road track in your opinion?

Hmm, this one is pretty tough, I can’t stop thinking how with a few exceptions («Necropolis», «The Ninth Wave», «Flaming Metal System» etc…) pretty much every song is underrated. Right now I’d say «The Books of Skelos» gets overlooked far too often.

Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?

There are a few that truly move me to damn near tears (sometimes actual tears), if I had to choose one that moves me the most, I’d have to say «The Veils of Negative Existence». Much of this is in no small part to the fact that Crystal Logic was my first Manilla Road album when I was like 18 and this song really takes me back to those early days when all of this was still really new to me.

What’s your favourite solo/lead played by Mark Shelton?

This might be a bit of an odd one, but I’d have to say «Sea Witch» from Atlantis Rising. That solo that kicks in at about 2:46 on is just absolutely bone chillingly powerful.

Omen strikes with the force of the shirtless barbarian, axe swinging and going right for the throat. Manilla Road guides you on epic quests and slowly draws you deeper into the atmosphere.

Chris about epic metal.

How would you define the term epic metal?

Epic metal is a tough genre to define as I feel there are a number of bands that are cited as classic examples of the style but come at it in completely different ways. For example, take Omen and Manilla Road, both often cited as torchbearers for the genre. Omen strikes with the force of the shirtless barbarian, axe swinging and going right for the throat. Manilla Road guides you on epic quests and slowly draws you deeper into the atmosphere. Kind of the classic Show vs. Tell. That being said I’d say that epic metal comes down to a sense of atmosphere, whether it’s to show you directly via the Omen method, or painted with spells and tales via the Manilla Road method, there is this overwhelming sense of scale, something far greater than our average day to day lives.

Are there any young bands inspired by Manilla Road that you appreciate?

Absolutely, off the top of my head I really love what Smoulder is doing, and bands like Legendry, Eternal Champion, and Gatekeeper are all great. From the doomier side like so many I’ve been enamored with Atlantean Kodex lately.

What do you generally think of Manilla Road’s legacy and the current epic metal scene?

For the longest time, I felt that Manilla Road’s legacy was underappreciated and not acknowledged to the extent that it should have been. I still feel that way – but acknowledge that its gotten better.
I do feel that epic metal has begun to gain a much stronger cult following and with the aid of the internet and social media it’s been possible to hold the scene together over geographical distances that would have been impossible in the 80s.

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