Review Summary: Manowar...the 12-year-old version.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Cloning has always been one of the hot topics in the world of rock and metal. Critics and fans alike debate the relative merits of copying another band’s successful formula for your own benefit, and whether or not artists who do this should even rank in the quality meter. And all the while this discussion is going on, new bands keep popping up who shamelessly copy or homage their idols and achieve a moderate degree of recognition doing it. Primal Fear with Judas Priest, Sonata Arctica with Stratovarius, Puddle Of Mudd with Nirvana and Alice In Chains…the examples are endless. And while some of these bands fall flat in their attempts to emulate their idols, occasionally one of them shows how cloning can be done correctly.
Case in point: Majesty (not to be confused with the metalcore band), a true metal outfit from Germany who sound a lot like Manowar. And I mean a lot
like Manowar. Practically every review you can read for this band will immediately point out the similarities, and this reviewer will not be the one to break the mold. Nor should he be, since said similarities are not only there, they are inescapable. Crunchy guitar riffs and tirumphant solos? Check. Strong, pounding mid-tempo rhythm section? Check. Soaring yet macho vocals? Check. Atmospheric, orchestrated slow sections? Check. Laughably clichéd sword and sorcery lyrics? Check. It’s all here, every single element that made Manowar famous. But that doesn’t mean the band doesn’t have its own, very valid, strenghts.
Majesty, who recently changed their name to Metalforce, are based around singer, guitarist and keyboardist Tarek “MS” Maghary, the lynchpin around which a revolving cast of musicians rotates. On this, their first album, the main attraction was probably still-teenaged drummer Ingo Zadravc, although all the musicians play it straight and competently. The songs themselves are also very good – in a Manowar-ripoff sort of way – making for a pleasant, if flawed, listen.
The group’s main strenght, which would be evidenced in later albums, is their knack for a chorus. Even when they aren’t all that inventive (Into The Night
) or inspired (Strong As Steel
), there is always at least a certain degree of catchiness to these sections, making sure they stick in our heads for some time after the album is over. Musically, everything is also quite competent, even if the song structures may tend a little towards repetitiousness. Even so, there is barely a weaker track amidst the eight songs presented here; only The Last Revolution
, Majesty’s somewhat clumsy attempt at an epic, can be construed as one, and even that picks up towards the end, with triumphant orchestrations providing a nice wrap-up to the album. Every other song on here is strong or very strong, with standouts including the opening title-track – a captivating mid-tempo with great backing vocals and guitar work – and We Will Ride
, an epic ballad which is basically a note-by-note retread of Manowar’s Courage
, but nevertheless stakes its claim as one of the strong points of the album.
Backing up these standouts are your usual gamut of pure heavy metal tracks, from the mid-tempo stompers (Strong As Steel, Son of Metal, Metal Force
), to something more akin to Judas Priest (Into The Night
, another great riff and vocal performance) to the aforementioned epics (Hail To Majesty
, with more excellent backing vocals and a chorus which grows on you, and the aforementioned The Last Revolution
). Overall, a small but pretty strong ensemble of epic metal tracks, which place Majesty high up on our musical quality detection radar.
Would that the lyrics were as good. Along with the cheesy artwork, Maghary’s statements of devotion to true metal are the downfall of the album, and the only thing keeping it from epic metal greatness. You see, much like the rest of the album, the lyrics here are basically Manowar…the twelve-year-old version. Some of the couplets here are so bad they border on embarassing, ranking firmly in the Gene Simmons school of rhyming. The very first stanza heard on the album already sets the mood (”when I turned on the radio/it shocked me, yes it did/I heard some talks of maniacs/treat me like a piece of ***”
), but the prime examples can be found on Son of Metal
(”magic and fire are taking me higher, as high as the mountains which I admire”
) and especially The Last Revolution
(”the king is bad, the king is cruel/I don’t like the way he rules”
and, further on, ”his body broke down on the grass/yes we kicked his god damn ass”
). Overall, the words come off sounding like a 12-year-old’s idea of a rousing, King Théoden speech, which ends up detracting from the band’s strong musical aspect.
Still, make no mistake: this is a very strong epic metal album, and should be checked out by all fans of the genre. In fact, if not for the lyrics, this would easily have been a 4.5, and a genre classic to boot. As it is, it is still a recommended listen and a promising start for the then-young band…if you can get past the lyrics.
Keep It True
Into The Night
We Will Ride