Manilla Road Special (35): Gordon Overkill (Atom Smasher)

As you have already noticed: The second part of our Manilla Road Special is in full swing. Our 35th interview was conducted with an old comrade who has already answered a lot of different questions in another interview with Aidan and me (however, one question is repeated here, the answer – the first one only published in German – varies somewhat…): Gordon Overkill from Atom Smasher. As usual, he has a lot to say, so you will certainly enjoy the following lines.

André: Would you classify Manilla Road as an important source of inspiration for your music?

Gordon Overkill: I definitely would. In case of Atom Smasher, Manilla Road is actually among our biggest and most obvious influences. Especially the Shark’s way of arranging vocal melodies made a deep impression on me.

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

Through the years there were a multitude of intense and special moments. For this occasion I’d like to point out the last Manilla Road gig I experienced, which was Mark’s final day at HOA 2018. I was talking with some friends, so I was a little late for the gig and suddenly heard them playing one of my favourite tracks, “Road of Kings“. Finished my beer in one big sip, rushed through the crowd right into the pit and went crazy like a maniac. Sadly the euphoria of the moment made me overdo the alcohol by quite a lot. I have no memory of the final two thirds of the concert and I am still grateful to the Blizzen-guys for picking me up, getting me some water and food and taking care of me until I was back to a halfway clear mind. When I heard the horrible news of Mark passing away on the following morning, I couldn’t believe my ears. To me Manilla Road were always an important and solid part of the underground and somehow I never expected this to change. It’s kinda hard to accept that I forgot more than half of their final show due to boozing, too. Sometimes I think of it as a reminder to experience special happenings in a conscious way.

What makes Manilla Road special in your opinion?

In terms of music that’s the Shark’s unique storytelling skills. When listening to Manilla Road, I always have the feeling it’s more than just some guys playing some songs. To me it feels like sitting around a campfire at night and listening to the stories of someone who has seen and done a lot in life. A major factor in this are the special vocal arrangements, which are never very complicated, but never trivial either. Of course the unique guitar tone mustn’t be forgotten, too. On top of that, at least in my eyes, Manilla Road represent the type of a true underground band more than almost any other band. A band as cranky and obscure as them could never have become a truly big thing in the scene. Still they gave all their passion and dedication for those chosen few real maniacs. To me that’s a point I respect just as much as their musical achievements.

What are your three favourite Manilla Road albums?

  1. Crystal Logic
  2. Open The Gates
  3. Metal

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

That’s a tough choice… I’d probably say Mark of the Beast, since it still tends to be ignored by many who focus on the albums released in the 80s. Still it’s epic rock in absolute perfection and I play it pretty regularly until this very day.

What are your five favourite Manilla Road tracks?

  1. “Dreams of Eschaton“
  2. “Necropolis“
  3. “Cage of Mirrors“
  4. “Road of Kings“
  5. “Astronomica“

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

Hmmm, probably “Throne of Blood“. In my eyes it’s a full scale Manilla Road classic. If it were released on any other album but The Circus Maximus, I think it could have become a fan favourite.

Which Manilla Road track moves you the most emotionally?

“Dreams of Eschaton“ – otherwise I would not have mentioned it as my favourite track. I can hardly explain the reason why. Maybe it’s just the incredible beauty of the melodies combined with the melancholic feeling. And well, the ending of the song is definitely a perfect ending for a perfect album. From one moment to the next, the dream is over.

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

I love the solo in the beginning of “Flaming Metal Systems“. I must confess though that the solos are generally not the most memorable part of Manilla Road’s songs for me. I know, many people have a different opinion on this matter, but to me the Shark’s tone stands out much more than the actual harmonies of the solos in most cases. He was a shredder and to me most of his solos actually sound pretty similar.

How would you define the term epic metal?

Hehe, since this is my second interview on your blog, it’s also the second time I am asked this question. Still I will not just copy my last answer, but rather try a new one. I won’t even read the old answer, because I am curious myself if anything changed about my understanding of the term. Today I would say epic metal is the particular kind of heavy metal that creates moments of greatness and makes the listener either witness or relive these moments. Thus epic metal reminds us of the fact that we are indeed important and significant, despite living in a society that often suggests the opposite.

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

I would say there are not many young epic metal bands, which are not inspired by Manilla Road. Some examples are Iron Griffin, Eternal Champion, Visigoth, Megaton Sword, Smoulder, our humble selves…

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

Manilla Road were legends when the band still existed and they will stay legends for as long as there is epic metal. They walked the underground way without compromise from the beginning to the end, created incredible art and never sold out. Their legacy is immortal and I’m looking forward to generations of bands picking up their torch and carrying it into the future. To me, the epic metal scene is in great shape. There are more great bands than ever, hailing from the most different parts of the world, and the big majority of these bands have good and honest hearts and a ton of passion. I do not fear for our scene, at least not for the next years to come.

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