• Richard Cathey
Manilla Road plays tonight at Panic Room; more details here.

The story of Mark "The Shark" Shelton and his band, Manilla Road, goes back nearly four decades, although it's only in the past 15 years or so that they've finally received their rightful due. It's common knowledge among metalheads today that Manilla Road's mighty trifecta—1983's rough and tumble Crystal Logic, the more polished and perfected Open the Gates (1985), and The Deluge (1986)—are thrash-metal masterpieces.

Those records were released at a time when bands like Slayer, Metallica, and Anthrax were banging heads and taking names. But they were mostly obscured by the fact that Manilla Road was born in the most un-metal of places: Wichita, Kansas. "When I grew up, people were still riding horses down the street," says Shelton. "We're just a bunch of cowboys who were lucky enough to make it in metal."