Review: Black Manalishi – Trailblazer

Posted on: Saturday, Apr 25, 2009



(self release)

Now here is something you won’t see reviewed on this website too often – a bona-fide rock album – but when the music and band in question is so good, exceptions to rules have to be made now and then! The Warrington-based Black Manalishi have financed and produced the excellent “Trailblazer” themselves – and to be honest it will stand alongside any British rock music of the last few years!

The band are Adam Ward (vocals), Nathan Moore (guitars), Carl Traynor (bass) and, just for the recording, Ben Egan (drums) – now replaced by permanent member, Lee Gallagher. They carry the torch for pure, classic rock – think a blend of Deep Purple, Free, Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and more and you are roughly where the boys are coming from – with the music beautifully played and recorded, they rock hard one moment, but produce tasteful acoustic touches as well.

The opening title cut, “Trailblazer”, opens with a tough riff from Nathan Moore, whose guitar work is top notch all the way through, and rocks hard, as does the following “Hard Blown Away”, after a deceptively delicate opening. “On Attack” sees a change of pace, with strong percussion and a funky groove, courtesy of Nathan Moore’s wah-wah pedal – shades of the great Living Color on this for me!

“In This Room” starts as a slow number which gradually builds up, with great vocal from Adam Ward, with layers of electric and acoustic guitar – before a mid-song tempo change brings a storming middle part of the song, with shades of the late, great Paul Kossoff in Nathan Moore’s playing.

“Clapped Out Jimi” has funk overtones again – the clapped out Jimi in question being a camper van – with a brief spoken intro from the Warrington legend ‘Chris The Dancing Man’, pretty hard to make out a word of it though! The rowdy “Mine’s A Whiskey” has a nice bluesy guitar intro, before the drums of Ben Egan thunder in and the band are off and running – think “Burn”/”Stormbringer” era Deep Purple on this one, definitely one of my favourites on the album.

The acoustic-based “Break Free” has a lovely Crosby, Stills & Nash feel to it – and a song I would imagine that features in Adam Ward and Nathan Moore’s acoustic duo shows – with it again building, courtesy of more fine electric guitar. “Snakeskin Boots” rides along on another great riff – definitely more ‘Koss’ influence here, you could see this easily sitting on a Free record in 1972 – excellent stuff boys!

The album concludes with the heavy-riffing “Down We Go”, and “You’ll Ride” – with its banjo intro, touches of mandolin and acoustic guitar, and inspired by the recent movie “3:10 To Yuma” – a cowboy flavoured folk ballad, which shows the band’s ability to switch tempo and pace, and a great end to a fabulous, highly recommended release!

Obviously the band will be best caught live and they do gig extensively in the North West –this is as good a straight rock album I have heard for a long time, very well done to all concerned! They boast a strong front line in Nathan Moore and Adam Ward, and the rhythm section are also exceptionally good throughout, driving the music along in fine style – a great band!


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