Manowar

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Battle Hymns

Manowar - Battle Hymns ©1982 Liberty/Capitol
1. Death Tone
2. Metal Daze
3. Fast Taker
4. Shell Shock
5. Manowar
6. Dark Avenger
7. William's Tale
8. Battle Hymn

This debut from the "Kings Of Metal" is not what one would expect from the now confident champions of power metal; it is tentative and a little weak sounding, with more than a few missteps.

This is the first chapter in a band struggling to find its identity. The first side is poppy hard rock, ala AC/DC, and is fun to listen to if you enjoy that style. "Manowar" is the first to really explore the self-glorifying anthem that the band perfected in later years. "William's Tale" is the first of the endless string of Joey DeMaio bass masturbation sessions; luckily this is mercifully short (unlike later "efforts"), as he plays the "William Tell Overture" as fast as he can, regardless of mistakes. "Dark Avenger" (featuring an Orson Welles narrative section) and "Battle Hymn" are the signs of things to come, with the overblown epic sound and Dungeons & Dragons subject matter. For completists and diehard Manowar fans only.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Into Glory Ride

Manowar - Into Glory Ride ©1983 Universal Music
1. Warlord
2. Secrets Of Steel
3. Gloves Of Metal
4. Gates Of Valhalla
5. Hatred
6. Revelation (Death's Angel)
7. March For Revenge (By The Soldiers Of Death)

The identity struggle continues. Manowar had decided on their image, gracing the cover in hilarious barbarian outfits, but still hadn't gotten the music part together.

While Battle Hymns contained a preview of their eventual direction, Into Glory Ride was more concerned with getting a heavier sound than improving the music. With the exception of road tune "Warlord," the songs are bloated and plodding, meandering around with no payoff hooks. This has been called Manowar's "doom album," but the only thing doom about it is it's tendency to endlessly repeat itself and induce a coma in the listener. "Gates of Valhalla" and "Revelation" are decent songs, but the rest would benefit by shaving the running time by three minutes or so. The lyrics were more compliant with the Manowar image, all about swordplay and war. The one big bonus of this album: no bass solos. Again, for completists and Manowar freaks only.

Historical notes: This is the first album with longtime drummer Scott Columbus and this is the first time the motto "Death to False Metal" is printed in the liner notes.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999


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Hail To England

Manowar - Hail To England ©1984 Universal
1. Blood Of My Enemies
2. Each Dawn I Die
3. Kill With Power
4. Hail To England
5. Army Of The Immortals
6. Black Arrows
7. Bridge Of Death

This is the first "classic" Manowar album. With their image secured, they combined the hooks and poppy flavor of Battle Hymns with the heavy sound of Into Glory Ride, and viola, the Manowar sound much as it is today.

Top to bottom, the songs contained here are fan favorites and are usually played in the live show. With the exception of the closing nine minute "Bridge of Death," the songs have been shortened from the previous album to about four minutes, though as their skills grew on later albums (of course, this is a discussable point!) the songs would bulk up again. The epic, majestic feeling is nearly fully formed, with "raise your fist and yell along" choruses on "Kill With Power" and "Blood of My Enemies". On the down side, DeMaio's bass solo is back, this time a torturous four minutes on "Black Arrows."

Many of the songs have a flirtation with Satanic imagery, talking about serving "the dark one" etc., though serving the dark one always involves a lot of swordplay and battle of course! This is something that Manowar comes back to now and again on later albums, though never really seriously stick with. My guess is that they were following the lead of fellow eighties phenoms, Venom.

This is the first real Manowar album, and recommended for any Manowar fan or someone curious as to what all the fuss is about. Death to False Metal!

Historical note: This is the first album that features song dedications.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Sign Of The Hammer

Manowar - Sign Of The Hammer ©1984 10 Records
1. All Men Play On 10
2. Animals
3. Thor (The Powerhead)
4. Mountains
5. Sign Of The Hammer
6. The Oath
7. Thunderpick
8. Guyana (Cult Of The Damned)

If there is a lost Manowar album, this is it. Released on 10 Records (hence the double meaning of "All Men Play On 10"), it is the hardest to find of all the albums. The fact that I had never heard of 10 Records and never have heard about them since is undoubtedly the reason for this scarcity.

This situation is quite a shame, because Sign Of The Hammer is an excellent Manowar album, continuing in the successful vein of Hail To England. The production is a bit rougher, the cover art is simple and cheap looking, and the liner notes are nonexistent, probably due to the limited funds available to 10 Records. Still, this is another nearly top to bottom classic, with the exception again being DeMaio's senseless bass solo ("Thunderpick" this time). "All Men Play On 10" and "Animals" are the best straightforward rockers that the band has ever done and their patented majestic war anthems are well represented with "Thor," "Mountains," "The Oath," and the title track. Closer "Guyana" is a departure in lyrical content, an attempt to make some kind of statement about the Jonestown cult that is more silly than relevant, but the music is great. Highly recommended.

Historical note: This album marks the end of the most active album production of Manowar's career. Four albums were released between 1982 and 1984, and there have only been four studio albums since.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999


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Fighting The World

Manowar - Fighting The World ©1987 ATCO
1. Fighting The World
2. Blow Your Speakers
3. Carry On
4. Violence And Bloodshed
5. Defender
6. Drums Of Doom
7. Holy War
8. Master Of Revenge
9. Black Wind, Fire And Steel

Looking at the career of Manowar and their claim to be the truest of the metal bands and all their claims to this and that, it's actually quite amusing to sit down and LISTEN to them. There are tons more bands that are certainly more extreme and over the top and Manowar sounds incredibly dated in 1998. After one listen, all I could think was KISS in loinclothes. Hmm. Chock full of anthems about being true to metal (blah blah blah, etc etc etc) and vocals straight out of Paul Stanley's throat, I really have a hard time taking these guys seriously. Yes, they are the manliest metal band to ever don a leather pair of trousers, and Joey DeMaio certainly is the fastest bassist in the world (note I didn't say the BEST), but my own musical interest isn't so insecure that I have to be bolstered by these anthems.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1998

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Review #2:

This was the first Manowar album I ever heard, and I remember thinking "What a bunch of posers!" After reading all of their diatribes in the liner notes about "Death to False Metal" and the like, I was expecting something heavier than this!

Now that they were finally on a major label and had all of the benefits that went along with it (superior production, cover art, promotion, etc.), I believe Manowar were looking to cash in with Fighting The World. The album is extremely watered down compared to their three previous efforts, toning down the Manowar sound to try to appeal to a wider audience. I can't fault them for this, but it would also have been a good idea to tone down their "heavier than thou" attitude when they produced a record that was no more brutal than a Whitesnake album.

Opener "Fighting the World" is faultless, but "Blow Your Speakers" is one of the worst songs I've heard in any genre. Cheesy (even for Manowar) lyrics and butt rock riffs...this is even bad for a KISS song. "Carry On" is better, but "Violence and Bloodshed" is a horrible attempt to make speed metal commercial and fails accordingly. The last half of the album picks up dramatically, with "Defender" (featuring another Orson Welles narration), "Holy War," and "Black Wind, Fire and Steel" more in line with Manowar's direction. While all good efforts, it is hard to save an album that has two terrible songs in the first four. On the plus side, there is no bass solo. Any Manowar fan already has this, but I don't recommend that anyone else take a chance on it.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Kings Of Metal

Manowar - Kings Of Metal ©1988 Atlantic
1. Wheels Of Fire
2. Kings Of Metal
3. Heart Of Steel
4. Sting Of The Bumblebee
5. The Crown & The King (Lament Of The Kings)
6. Kingdom Come
7. Pleasure Slave
8. Hail And Kill
9. The Warrior's Prayer
10. Blood Of The Kings

Warning! If you even attempt to take this album or Manowar seriously, your intelligence shall not just be insulted, but possibly mortally injured. Good golly. This is absolute schlock. When I was a teenager hearing this album, I couldn't really stomach the needless over the top anthems about being true to metal, warriors, fist pumping and woman domination. Today I'm just rolling on the floor at this (unintentionally) hilarious piece of work. The absolute worst offender has to be "Pleasure Slave", complete with gasping, moaning women in the intro and lyrics that are straight out of a slovenly adolescent male's wettest dreams. Check out the nonsense of "Woman, be my slave/That's your reason to live". Pardon me while I fall out of my chair in uncontrollable laughter. So...were you Mano-dudes that hard up in the 80s for chicks? Generally, misygonistic lyrics are a reflection of sexual disfunction, so draw your own conclusions. Elsewhere you get half-baked anthems with those KISS-o-graphic vocals. Nothing interesting to report beyond the accidental parody factor Manowar brings upon themselves. From that nutty spoken drama of "The Warrior's Prayer" to the superspeed bass "Sting of the Bumblebee", it just doesn't get any more goofy than Manowar. At this point, the only way Mano-egos could have gotten any larger was if The Great Kat had ever joined on lead guitar, but I doubt if you could fit her and Joey DiMaio's egos in the same room.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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Review #2:

Hot on the heels of the disappointing Fighting The World comes Kings Of Metal. While certainly not their best work, it is probably Manowar's defining moment. If someone wants to hear what Manowar is all about, this is the album you would play for them.

The ultra-slick production of Fighting The World is still intact, but this time the music is a much better representation of the band. "Wheels of Fire" and the title track are good openers, both catchy hard rock songs that don't overstay their welcome. The next half of Side one is Manowar's first foray in to their overly melodramatic ballads, with "Heart of Steel" and "The Crown and the Ring". Side two opens with the upbeat hymn "Kingdom Come", followed by heavy battle anthems "Hail and Kill" and "Blood of the Kings". The less said about "Sting of the Bumblebee" (yet another bass wanking festival) and the silly spoken word "The Warrior's Prayer" the better. CD bonus track "Pleasure Slave" is simplistic musically and either hilarious or offensive lyrically depending on how you choose to take it.

This album isn't going to change the world, but quite honestly, there is no excuse for buying this and being disappointed. One look at the song titles and the over the top fantasy cover art, and you should know what you are getting. Cheese and all, Kings Of Metal is pure fun. Recommended for those who don't always need to take their music seriously.

Historical note: This is the final album with founding guitarist/songwriter Ross the Boss.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999


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The Triumph Of Steel

Manowar - The Triumph Of Steel ©1992 Atlantic
1. Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts
2. Metal Warriors
3. Ride The Dragon
4. Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee
5. Burning
6. The Power Of Thy Sword
7. The Demon's Whip
8. Master Of The Wind

Four years after Kings Of Metal, and minus two core members, Manowar returned with the 70 minute The Triumph Of Steel. David Shankle took over the departing Ross the Boss's guitar and co-songwriting duties and Rhino replaced drummer Scott Colombus on his one album leave of absence.

The Triumph Of Steel has a more serious and darker approach than the previous two albums on Atlantic, trying to recapture their "doomy" sound from Into Glory Ride. Satanic lyrical content is back as well, imported from Hail To England on to tracks "Burning" and "The Demon's Whip".

The core of the album is "Achilles", a 29 minute song dealing with the story of The Illiad. This works surprisingly well, incorporating enough different elements of speed, melodrama and brutality to keep the behemoth moving along nicely. The exception to this is, you guessed it, the obligatory bass solo, but there is almost no point about bitching about these anymore. You know they are going to be there, so you might as well deal with it. The real problem with the album is the remaining forty minutes. Most of the songs are so simple (yes, even for Manowar) that they get boring after the first minute. "Ride the Dragon", "The Power of Thy Sword" and "The Demon's Whip" are the worst offenders, with the guitar chugging away on one riff and the drums providing a mind numbing double bass patter, leaving Eric Adams vocals to carry the entire song. Schmaltzy "Master of the Wind" sounds like it is a Meatloaf cover, and "Metal Warriors" is the same "all praise Manowar" song that has been on nearly every album, but this time with absolutely nothing to redeem it. "Burning" is the one bright spot, a creepy midpaced song that showcases one of Adams's best vocal performances.

I'm not sure if all of their energy went in to "Achilles," or if the change in lineup hurt the creative process, but the majority of The Triumph Of Steel just comes off as lazy and half-assed. This certainly doesn't sound like an album that was four years in the making.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Louder Than Hell

Manowar - Louder Than Hell ©1996 Geffen
1. Return Of The Warlord
2. Brothers Of Metal Pt. 1
3. The Gods Made Heavy Metal
4. Courage
5. Number 1
6. Outlaw
7. King
8. Today Is A Good Day To Die
9. My Spirit Lives On
10. The Power

History has shown that Manowar shouldn't meddle too much with their successful formula. After the debacle of The Triumph of Steel, drummer Scott Columbus rejoined the band, David Shankle was replaced on guitar and co-songwriting by Karl Logan, and the band got back to doing what they do best.

Louder Than Hell was released to little fanfare, it having been eight years since the last good Manowar album. Nevertheless it is the best of the "modern era" of Manowar (post-Sign Of The Hammer). No longer concerned with appealing to the mainstream public or producing album length songs, Louder Than Hell goes back to the early days, serving up ten mighty war hymns in the classic style. Lyrically most of the songs are about being true to metal and less about medieval battle, but musically they are the heavy, bombastic, hopelessly cheesy but irresistibly catchy tunes that won the band legions of fans in the first place. Notable songs are "Courage", the best Manowar power ballad ever, "King", combining the old and new styles in to an instant classic, and "Today Is a Good Day To Die/My Spirit Lives On", which combine into a 12 minute atmospheric instrumental that surprised me with its richness and emotion. And best of all, there are no bass solos! My prayers to the Gods of Metal have been answered! Highly recommended, especially for previous Manowar fans who had given up on them.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Hell On Wheels Live

Manowar - Hell On Wheels Live ©1997 Universal
CD one:
1. Manowar
2. Kings Of Metal
3. Kill With Power
4. Sign Of The Hammer
5. My Spirit Lives On
6. Piano Interlude
7. Courage
8. Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee
9. Blood Of My Enemies
10. Hail And Kill
11. Warriors Of The World
CD two:
1. Wheels Of Fire
2. Metal Warriors
3. Army Of The Immortals
4. Black Arrows
5. Fighting The World
6. Thor The Power Head
7. King
8. The Gods Made Heavy Metal
9. Black Wind Fire And Steel
10. Return Of The Warlord
11. Carry On
12. Battle Hymn

This is the first offical Manowar live album, recorded throughout Europe on their '97 world tour. Given "The Loudest Band In The World"'s reputation for their mindblowing live performances, this album is quite disappointing.

The liner notes boast that the album contains no overdubs and some equipment problems and playing mistakes can be heard. When listening to the album, it is quite obvious that this is the case; in fact, the generally poor sound combined with annoying speaker feedback takes most of the enjoyment out of the music. I think that overdubbing and overproduction are common sins committed with live albums, but there is something to be said for not hearing every screwup and technical glitch.

Most of the fan favorite Manowar songs are represented here, and I'm sure the diehards would like to drive a sword through my innards for daring to say anything bad about a Manowar release. The difference is that I am a Manowar fan, not a Manowar lemming; the simple fact is the live versions of these songs that are presented are inferior to the studio versions. For a good live album, get Hell On Stage Live.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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Hell On Stage Live

Manowar - Hell On Stage Live ©1999 Metal Blade
CD one:
1. Metal Daze
2. Dark Avenger
3. March For Revenge
4. Hatred
5. Gates Of Valhalla
6. Bridge Of Death
7. William's Tale
8. Guyana (Cult Of The Damned)
CD two:
1. The Warrior's Prayer
2. Blood Of The Kings
3. Sting Of The Bumblebee
4. Heart Of Steel
5. Master Of The Wind
6. Outlaw
7. The Power
8. The Crown And The Ring

Two years after the mediocre Hell On Wheels Live and Manowar are back with another double live album. Why? I doubt the band would admit it, but I suspect that they were aware of how lacking the first one was and this is their attempt to make up for it.

These songs were recorded on the '98 world tour (do these guys ever stop?), and despite the huge amount of filler it is a great live album. The track listing focuses more on lesser known songs, but each performance sounds killer and is full of energy, actually enhancing the song instead of making one yearn for the studio versions. Another nice touch is that the songs are arranged in semi-chronological order. The older material which comprises Disc One fares better, as the studio versions were not as slickly produced as their predecessors and therefore don't suffer for the lack of studio tricks.

The only problem with Hell On Stage Live is the filler that I mentioned earlier. Out of sixteen tracks, there are two bass solos ("William's Tale" and "Sting of the Bumblebee") and two recorded tracks played before the live audience (the spoken word intro "The Warrior's Prayer" and show closer "The Crown and the Ring"). This leaves twelve tracks, which could easily have been put on one CD and saved the Manowar fan a bit of cash. Maybe it was more "epic" to have a double CD album, who knows. Regardless, if you are looking for a Manowar live album this is the one to buy.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/1999

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