Metal makes us strong / Together we belong / Forever here's your song
Attention Manowar…where have you been all my life" Seriously. The American quartet sleeps, breathes, and bleeds metal. If (true) metal ever manifested itself into flesh, then it would probably take the form of the infamous band, which is now in its 27th year of, well, metal. So why did it take so long for me to get a hold of one of their albums" I don't really know to be quite honest, perhaps it was because their image scared me off when I was first getting into metal, maybe I just didn't like their music, or perhaps a combination of the two, but I never really cared for the band. But that all changed when the first minutes of Manowar's third album, Hail to England. Released in 1984, the album contains pretty much what you would expect from the metal veterans. Unadulterated, over-the-top, true metal at its finest.
To play the loudest metal / so hard and wild and mean
On Hail to England, Manowar makes use of a simple, yet very effective musical formula. The New Yorkers produce a mostly fast-paced, upbeat, fun sound which defines that which traditional metal entails. Heavy, powerful riffing from guitarists; high pitched shouts and wails from vocalist Eric Adams; driving bass lines, and majestic choruses of the highest quality; Manowar certainly has quite the record on their hands. While the quality of said riffs, wails, bass lines, and choruses varies from song to song, the resulting end product is quite good. Tracks such as Army of the Immortals and Hail to England display the band's love of writing passionate tales of metal, strength, bravery, and war, and have musical traits reflecting said characteristics exceedingly well. Whether it is through a destructive, muscular guitar line or a shrill scream, Manowar always seems to have everything slapped together right when it's needed. The closing two tracks, Black Arrows and Bridge of Death are more tongue in cheek tracks (especially the former) in typical Manowar fashion. Dealing with topics such as hate for false metal (yet again…) and Satan/hell, they both offer clichéd, silly, over-the-top, samples of traditional metal from the 80's. And they do a good job of it.
Battle Hymns did sound the call / you came to our side / You heard true metal / Into Glory Ride
While Hail to England is home to many a strong track, particularly the title track, for one, the strongest would have to be Army of Immortals. An ode to the band's fans/fan club), it combines pretty much everything that made Manowar so much fun to listen too. Top notch musical performances, solid song writing, and uplifting sing-along qualities. Out of all the tracks I've heard from Battle Hymns and Hail to England, Army of Immortals would be the one which not only manages to incorporate the various themes found in Manowar's lyrics and music, but also makes it sound epic and, well, good. Still a staple in the band's live set to today, Army of Immortals would probably be my favourite track and the best all around song on Hail to England. With that said, songs such as the title track, Kill With Power, and Blood of My Enemies all make use of the band's strengths rather well, and are definitely among the band's top tracks.
In our eyes you're immortal / In our hearts you'll live forever more
While today's material may or may not be up to snuff with what one of traditional metal's more well known powerhouses is capable of producing, Manowar's earlier albums are definitely excellent offerings. Among the finest of these early albums is Hail to England, Manowar's third full length album. A fun, energetic recording, it displays the band at its best, both in terms of song writing and musicianship. Songs such as Kill with Power and Army of Immortals should definitely impress fans of traditional metal acts such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I'm not so sure how easy this is to find, but if you find this, do not hesitate to pick it up, as it is an excellent release.
Let each note I now play be a black arrow of death sent straight to the hearts of all those who play false metal
Army of Immortals
Hail to England
Blood of my Enemies