SENTRY - s/t  CD
SENTRY - s/t  CD

HRR 945CD, slipcase, 12 pages booklet, poster

Bryan “Hell Roadie” Patrick - vocals
Kalli Coldsmith - guitar
Phil Ross IV - bass
Neudi - drums

01 Dark Matter
02 The Haunting
03 Heavensent
04 Valyries (Raise the Hammers)
05 Awakening
06 Black Candles
07 Raven's Night
08 Funeral
09 Incarnation of Evil


When Mark Shelton died on July 27th 2018 at the age of only 60 years after a gig of Manilla Road at Headbangers Open Air in Brande-Hörnerkirchen, the shock to the heavy metal underground community was huge. The band dissolved while a Manilla Road tribute show in honor of Mark was celebrated at the Keep It True festival in 2019.
It took five long years for ex-Manilla Road members Bryan Patrick (vocals), Phil Ross (bass) and Andreas “Neudi” Neuderth (drums) to make up their minds and form a new band, continuing the legacy of the epic metal masters. They are joined by Kalli Coldsmith on guitar. The name of the band is Sentry and they debuted with a two track 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 compositions plus the two songs from the promo EP (the CD edition comes with an additional bonus track, “Incarnation Of Evil” by the mighty Candlemass). Bassist Phil Ross and guitarist Kalli Coldsmith have some news on the eagerly awaited record. A lot of people might have wondered how big the temptation was for them to call this venture Manilla Road? After all it’s basically Manilla Road without Mark … “You can't fault anyone for taking note of the personnel in Sentry,” explains Phil Ross. “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.”
Wise words indeed. But then again Sentry might at least be seen as some kind of tribute to the one and only Mark Shelton. According to Phil, this is 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.”
Judging by how strong the material is, it’s conceivable that quite a few record labels were interested in signing Sentry. True or false? Phil Ross: “We are extremely fortunate to have been offered several different deals from some familiar, high-caliber labels. Steffen from High Roller has been a fan since hearing the first note, and that of course made us very happy. Personally, I have had a brilliant working relationship with Steffen through Manilla Road as I take care of the mailorder business here in Wichita with longtime friend of the band Derek ‘Dr. Doom’ Brubaker. Steffen pumps out quality and we knew that signing with him would get the LP out quickly to stores worldwide. Working with High Roller is always no-nonsense and drama free. He gave us everything we asked for and then some. He’s also keen on rolling with our tight schedule and I know that down the road he'll have our back when we need him. His empire is a tough one to compete with and my friends who are also on his label have nothing but good things to say as well!”
The material on the album was recorded at Kalli Coldsmith's studio near Darmstadt as well as Phil’s own studio in Wichita, Kansas, USA. “We did not set out for any specific kind of sound,” elaborates Phil Ross, “but we knew whatever we threw at Kalli, he would make us sound good. A majority of the ‘heavy lifting’ was done by Kalli: production, mixing, recording the drums, etc. These things all came together to our liking as we would rather have a record with diverse personality than one with plastic production (I will save everyone Neudi's ranting about triggers, ha!) or worse yet one that sounds contrived and flat. I think if comparing »The Blessed Curse« to the self-titled Sentry album you'll find a world of difference in production styles, and the clarity Kalli has achieved will stand up to a lot of modern metal albums! I think the next one will be even better as I've learned a ton during this project and Kalli has been very patient with our progress here in the USA. I owe him a beer or three for putting up with my slow learning!”
One thing is very important to the band, they won’t like to be seen as a carbon copy of Manilla Road, as guitarist Kalli Coldsmith makes absolutely clear: “We’re simply a different band with own original songs and without a huge back catalog. We’re trying to stand for ourselves and find our own style that makes you recognize ’This is Sentry!’” He continues: “Since I wrote most of the material and I never was in Manilla Road, the songs don’t go back to the times of Mark. ‘Heavensent’ is a song that was written reflecting the impressions of the Mark Shelton tribute show which was an emotional roller coaster ride for all musicians and friends involved. So, this song was sent from the Heavens, so to speak. Most of the other songs were brand new, together with some old ideas from my riff vaults.”
The songwriting on »Sentry« is nothing less but fantastic. Saying that it’s the best album Manilla Road never recorded might take it a step too far, but it’s really, really strong. It’s surely (almost) up there with »Crystal Logic«. “Being compared with such a heavy metal classic is an absolute honor, “ beams Kalli Coldsmith. “You know, we had four years to bring it all together. We took the time to listen to the songs over and over again to find out what would still work after a month or two. Also, we didn’t feel any pressure which helped a lot to find our identity as a new band.”
Any favorite numbers on the record for the two? “It is hard to decide but I'd say my favorite is ‘Haunting’,” says Phil. “I remember hearing Bryan sing to it in 2019 and feeling like I was in a band again for the first time since the tribute show. I think ‘Black Candles’ is another super strong tune and I've always been attracted to this kind of dark, candle-lit doom style (pun intended). Kalli on the other hand opts for a different tune: “My fave is ‘Raven’s Night’. Neudi and I ‘wrote’ that song in the rehearsal room and it was simply a jam, but we didn’t change the arrangement later and the song on the record is basically what we improvised on that very day. When Bryan added lyrics and I got to hear his voice on it, it really moved me to tears. This one goes deep!”
Quite a few sound effects are used on the record, which makes it sound interesting and gives it more depth sonically. According to the guitarist an co-producer this was a conscious decision: “I liked the idea of not only gluing eight tracks together but also bringing in some atmosphere that kinda connects the songs. Especially the transition from ‘Raven’s Night’ to ‘Funeral’ is a perfect example for that with its distant bells and the wind blowing. You can instantly imagine what the songs are about without hearing or reading a single word.”
“Awakening” is really hard, straight in your face thrash metal, but apart from that it’s quite a varied and extremely “epic-sounding” record. Or is this a misinterpretation? “If someone called the record ‘epic metal’, I would not disagree with them,“ finds Phil Ross. “I think ‘Awakening’ is in the perfect spot on the LP, a shot of espresso after lunch for sure! Again, the time and care given to writing and sequencing makes me feel satisfied and amped up for the next LP. ‘Epic metal’ is a term thrown around quite a bit these days and we never meant to fit that description, it's just how some things turned out for us and it represents who we are as individual musicians as well as a new band.”
At the other end of the spectrum there is the already mentioned “Funeral”, which is slow, doomy and pounding, a really nice change of tempo and mood on the album. “I am proud of the contributions I was able to make on ‘Funeral’, which was originally meant to be an ambient clip or segway between songs,” comments the bassist. “Kalli and Bryan made it into a fully fledged song and a proper closer to the LP in my opinion. I believe it's a unique composition full of chords and harmony originally written on the bass. There are no less than three different basses on the track in a few different tunings, and it works much better in the way that Kalli, Neudi, and Bryan changed it than what I had intended!”
The material on »Sentry« clearly shows that Phil, Bryan and Neudi were not only members of Manilla Road, making music together with Mark Shelton, but that they were also huge fans of the band! “With three out of four guys that were actually playing in Manilla Road and adding to the sound of their latest records, you will always feel and hear the spirit of the Road, no matter what these guys do,” analyzes Kalli Coldsmith. “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.” Phil Ross adds: “Manilla Road is my favorite band of all time and I am happy I can now go back and listen to it again without a ton of feelings coming to the surface. Being able to return to ‘super fan’ instead of a member of the band is a much more comfortable place to be in my head than the last few years since 2018. I learned a lot from Mark in my very short time with the band, some good and some bad, ha!”
All in all, the album contains nine songs (including the CD bonus track). Is that all Sentry have written (and recorded) or is there additional material in the vaults? 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.“