I can assume everyone here has heard of Manowar? I guess so, and that's great as no introduction is really needed. If not, where the hell have you been?
How else can you describe the mighty Manowar other than Metal Gods? Well, Lords of Steel of course... which fits rather well for saying that is the official title given to their latest release. Well, its 'Lord Of Steel' but you see where I'm going with this.
This will be their twelfth offering, and was released on 9th October 2012 and preceded their 'Lord Of Steel' World Tour where Manowar performed their new material for the first time live along with a totally new stage production. (See John Oakley's review of them blasting Germany here on MetalTalk.net
). For the content, they have worked their magic onto the world of action heroes and their stories. Think Marvel comics and I guess you're on the right track.
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The first movie track on the album, 'El Gringo', which pays homage to Ennio Morricone was written for the Hollywood movie under the same title, whilst 'Expendable' was inspired by Sly Stallone's action movie franchise also under the same name. They have already confirmed their next movie project, 'Soldiers', for The Expendables 2.
The album was released through their own record company, Magic Circle Entertainment, who also organise the Magic Circle Festival, where Manowar broke their own record for loudest sound during a performance in Bulgaria back in 2009.
With the smell and creaking of leather, images of warriors and galloping war horses with scenes from Hercules, Conan and Xenia flooding to my mind whenever I hear any Manowar album. With an imaginary sword glinting in the darkness as it is drawn, ready to ride into an aural bloodthirsty battle, I get ready to be slaughtered.
Instead of mighty weapons, Manowar pummel you with raging drum beats and grinding axe solos. Even Eric's vocals have taken a harsher, rawer edge, slicing through the mix like a well sharpened broadsword.
Starting off with the title track 'Lords Of Steel', you are fully immersed into a ripping carnage of hammering, slashing and thundering. With raw edges of slashing solo's and Eric's gritty voice slicing at the lyrics, this is truly an invitation to war.
For all true steel hearted fans, songs like 'Heart Of Steel', 'Kings Of Metal' and 'Hail And Kill' which became veritable anthems now have a serious contender in the shape of the aptly titled 'Manowarriors' which is about their lifestyle, their never-ending faith, and "why they are the best fans in the world".
There are some reprieves from the full on barrages that start off in the form of the soft and erotic 'Born In A Grave' which tells the story of blood suckers and their cursed immortality. Following on is the ballad, 'Righteous Glory' that leads you in with a melodic keyboard intro, with the rest of the track full of sentiment, melancholy and hope. If those two don't settle your nerves, 'Touch The Sky' will bring you back up to fighting speed, encouraging you to unleash your inner strength, to stand up and fight, believing in yourself no matter what comes along to knock you down.
Back into the combat, the very bass driven and surprisingly stoner rock atmosphere of 'Black List' with its extremely long intro - two minutes thirty to be precise - grinds the mood down whilst 'Expendable' which is dark, very dark. Its deep noted riffs race along with a barrage of double bass drums, pounding bass and razor follows suite.
Again, 'Annihilation', even though speeded up slightly has a stoner drudging quality. I do believe this is a change that the guys are dabbling in, and it does work, but seems out of character from the 'tongue in cheek cheesiness' that they are known for. I bet Joey loved doing these tracks and getting the chance to rule with his mighty bass!
Now, with 'Expendable' and 'El Gringo', the Hollywood contributions, I am wondering if these are sacrifices to commercialism? It turns out that, well, no. 'Expendable', as mentioned before, is a change with its sluggish tempo, whilst 'El Gringo' speeds up a tad, and is okay, but not fantastic. Yes, there are some great solos, but after a while it does seem to drone on. Maybe that's due to the fact that its seven minutes long, but not the longest on the album. 'The Kingdom Of Steel' amounts to seven minutes thirty-five.
I could drivel on for longer about Manowar and this album. It has a mix of peaks and troughs, and I'm sure that if you are a 'Manowarrior' you will be happily appeased after the five-year wait. If you are not true steel hearted fan, and listen to them to do your 'duty' as a true Heavy Metal fan, I think you will find this offering interesting to say the least with their new directions.
Manowar are on tour in the USA now promoting 'Lords Of Steel':
Nov 23, 2012 Worcester, MA USA The Palladium
Nov 24, 2012 Long Island, NY USA The Paramount
Nov 25, 2012 Long Island, NY USA The Paramount
'The Lord Of Steel' tracklist:
The Lord Of Steel
Born In A Grave
Touch The Sky
Hail Kill And Die
The Kingdom Of Steel