SENTRY are ¾ MANILLA ROAD.
Andreas “Neudi” Neuderth (drums), Phil Ross (bass) and Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick (vocals) have all been in the line-up of MANILLA ROAD’s last studio album, “To Kill a King” (2017), they played at Up the Hammers festival in 2018 and performed at the Headbangers Open Air festival on July 26th of the same year – the final show of the band as it would turn out to be.
Needless to say, the one member who’s missing, the other one-fourth, is no other than the American metal giant called Mark “The Shark” Shelton. A true legend. A real king for the whole underground metal community. Unfortunately, Mark Shelton died at the age of only 60 years the very next day after the gig at Headbangers Open Air in Brande-Hornerkirchen, leaving an irreplaceable void. Naturally, MANILLA ROAD dissolved. And that’s how math is repealed, as ¼ actually equals one.
Let’s have Phil Ross explain it to us in his own words: “You can’t fault anyone for taking note of the personnel in SENTRY,” he says. “Three of us were in the band when Mark passed away, and all four of us spearheaded the Manilla tribute show at Keep It True in 2019. To share that closure on stage at KIT with some of Mark’s closest friends and admirers (the other members in the tribute show) also helped us close this chapter in our lives. We don’t need to pretend we are something we are not, we simply wish to be ourselves within this new band. To move on in this group and write new material and try to call it MANILLA ROAD would have been absurd, and it’s not anything we ever thought about. If you ask anyone in SENTRY, they will tell you that MANILLA ROAD was Mark Shelton, plain and simple.”
It took five years for ex-MANILLA ROAD members to take the next step and form a new band. They called on Eric “Kalli” Kaldschmidt (credited as Kalli Coldsmith) to join them on the guitars and that’s how SENTRY were created, bringing out their two-tracks promo EP in 2023 (featuring “Heavensent” and “Black Candles”) before signing a deal with High Roller Records.
The result is their self-titled debut album consisting of six brand new songs plus the ones from the promo EP – the CD edition comes with an additional bonus track, “Incarnation Of Evil” by CANLDEMASS, a really nice treat for the fans.
MANILLA ROAD played glorious epic heavy/power metal in a way no other band would ever play. Their music cannot be easily described. It’s dark and doomy, massive and sturdy, true and honest, genuinely and brilliantly unique. SENTRY wisely decided not to try becoming a Manilla clone but instead, honor and continue the legacy of this one-of-a-kind band. They might be considered as a tribute to the one and only Mark Shelton.
“As a musician that was always impressed by what MANILLA ROAD stood for, playing unique and unconventional songs with lots of lead breaks and having a unique sound, I definitely wanted to bring these virtues into the material we were preparing for Sentry.” says Kalli Coldsmith. According to Phil Ross, this is exactly the case: “SENTRY was formed from the brotherhood and comraderie of that tribute show in 2019. This band would not exist without Mark, so of course in a way you can classify it as a tribute to him. Lyrically you’ll pick up on many tributes you could say are ‘for or to’ Mark. We think he would like this LP but we are absolutely not trying to write music ’for Mark’ or ‘for Manilla fans’. We are doing it because we think we can create something new within the structure of this band that interests metal fans, and that includes Manilla fans! I think each member has contributed to the new LP in ways that we haven’t contributed to other recordings. We are mindful of respecting where we came from and how we got here but it happened naturally and organically. We never formed the band to ‘make a tribute’ to Mark. We were lucky enough to do that at Keep It True 2019.”
The material of SENTRY’s debut justifies all the above. You’ll clearly hear MANILLA ROAD and Mark Shelton’s influence but also the band’s distinct musical expression. “Dark Matter” opens the album with a tremendous metal storm, pulsing and powerful, proving the strong bonds with the past – Neudi’s drumming is outstanding while Bryan Patrick’s voice seems perfectly matching to the group’s notable sound. “The Haunting” and “Heavensent” showcase Kalli Coldsmith’s amazing guitar work and how it’s nicely developed together with the great job that’s been done on behalf of the solid, inventive rhythm section. Slow and mid-paced parts, choruses and solos, all blended flawlessly and displayed magnificently; HEAVY METAL at its BEST – not your usual trite listening of today’s plaguy plethora, mind you!
As it happens, this goes one through the whole tracklist! “Valkyries (Raise The Hammers)” is an epic anthem full of force and might, “Awakening” is a furious, angry song, played at breakneck speed, with Bryan Patrick offering some gutty growls, while “Black Candles” and “Raven’s Night” get slower, still menacing in their gloomy, ominous style. “Funeral”, with its tear-jerking bass lines and soul-stirring chorus closes the album with a melancholic farewell hymn that reminds us how SENTRY’s journey began – born out of pain and grief for the loss of the mighty Mark Shelton.
“The bells toll in the distance, we walk through the lands,
to gather and remember blood in the sand,
the last day has come now, for you my old friend…”
So, is THAT all – is THIS the end?
Kalli answers: “We have one song left over which in my opinion wasn’t ready to share with the world yet. We already had enough material for a vinyl and “Incarnation Of Evil” turned out to be damn strong, so we chose the CANDLEMASS cover as the CD bonus track. In other words, we already have one song for the next album in spare.”
Thank God, they do!
SENTRY’s debut is definitely one of this year’s most highly anticipated albums – and I guess it will be included in many best-off lists for sure!
“Sentry” will be released on March 1st by High Roller Records on both CD and LP.
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.
You can pre order both CD and LP here.