Review Summary: Once upon a time...
It is unfortunate when a band becomes so maligned, so reviled within the metal community (even if deservedly so), that it gets to the point where its past merits become overlooked. Nowadays, Manowar are a parody of themselves -- With their incessant obnoxious repetition of "death to false metal" and assertion that they are the one and only "true metal" band, as well as lyrics that are a random permutation of the words sword, shield, metal, iron, fire, dragon, death of my enemies, lord of the kingdom of steel, etc.
, the band does nothing but lose whatever little fanbase it has left.
But there was a time when things were different. In the early eighties, before the "fame", before the pretentiousness, this band was still able to deliver genuine metal classics and avoid cliches, without having to constantly reassert their true-metal-ness. And it is worthwhile to abstract oneself from Manowar's recent failures and have a listen at what the band produced in that time. After a rock-n-roll influenced debut Battle Hymns
and a more fantasy-oriented Into Glory Ride
, the band arrived at what was arguably its best effort at the time, Hail to England
Heavily grounded in traditional metal, with the occasional stab at the epic, Hail to England is a bona-fide masterpiece. With simple, yet effective riffs (see Hail to England
), heavily accentuated bass (Each Dawn I Die
), and Eric Adams' trademark wails (see Kill With Power
), the album succeeds in being a keystone within the band's catalog. Adams' vocal presence is key to driving the band's music and few people will admit that he is one of the greats as far as metal vocalists go, with not many able to replicate his style. Meanwhile, Ross "the Boss" Friedman's lead work is also to be reckoned with, as his shredding on tracks such as Army of the Immortals
proves that he is quite the underappreciated guitarist.
Opener Blood of My Enemies
is easily one of the band's best songs, whereas the doom-laden epic closer Bridge of Death
is a logical conclusion to the otherwise short duration of the album. Army of the Immortals
is perhaps the most memorable track on the album, with Adams' chants "Stronger" in an ever-higher pitch at the end being absolutely shattering.
The one track that sits oddly is Black Arrows
. Supposed to display DeMaio's proficiency on the bass, it comes off as chuckle-inducing. Take it with a grain of salt.
- Blood of My Enemies
- Army of the Immortals
- Hail to England
- Bridge of Death