Review Summary: A dark themed, mid-tempo and well-crafted piece of heavy metal that reflects the time when they were still fresh and developing.
Inspired by recent death of the former Manowar’s drummer Scott Collumbus I decided to dust off long forgotten CDs of what was one of my favourite bands of my school time. As usual I also browsed Sputnik Music’s archives searching for some review and opinions, finding to my surprise that most of older albums are still waiting for a caring attention - among them one of their most distinct works called “Into Glory Ride” from 1983.
Quick glance at the cover makes it clear that the American band was running “Got cheese?” campaign roughly 20 years before the “Got milk?” started. I mean, seriously, those swords don’t even look real and if you take a glance inside the digipack you’ll see that their furry and selective armours are accompanied on their quest for aural purity by fake dogs dressed in metal spikes. Pretty badass. No wonder that Scott, who was a newcomer in the group back then, looks on the cover as if he’s trying to hide in the background with a “what am I doing here?” facial expression.
You can’t also blame them for lack of coherence when watching their first video to “Gloves of Metal” where they are riding horses on asphalt streets, presenting proudly their weapons of mass destruction, and finally teleporting to an encampment, wreaking havoc among the males, collecting helpless women as rewards and turning themselves into swords after the work is done. Though it does not win the contest for the worst video ever (Immortal’s “Call of the Wintermoon” remains safely on top) it’s by far the 2nd worst on my list.
But enough about the exteriors. I still wonder if back then they were treating their image with at least some dose of humour and distance. A listener might find a hint at the very beginning thanks to a funny intro scene preceding the opening track – Eric, being apparently in the process of scoring a minor, is discovered by her parents and after he’s thrown out of the window “Warlord” starts. Lyrically it’s quite a generic metal song, akin to some already found on the first album, about riding the chopper and not giving a single damn. It’s quite pleasurable though, especially with a beer in hand, and being the only track on the album (among a few in the whole discography) that’s not totally detached from reality makes him a specific standout.
What immediately catches attention not only on this song, but also throughout the album, is the rawer and harsher sound than on “Battle Hymns” or on their later recordings. The second piece confirms that opinion – “Secrets of Steel” is one of my favourites here. Sometimes I feel that bands add orchestration to fill gaps resulting from lack of talent or ideas (vide modern Manowar). Back in the times where being epic did not equal with worse-than-Wagner brass orchestra ruling every track, they managed to sound both sublime and bearable using only 2 guitars, a percussion set and flawless vocals.
Aforementioned “Gloves of Metal”, increasing a bit the pace, is a mix of well-known Manowar’s pretentious crusadership, unitary exhortation and fantasy themes. It actually sounds better than it appears to, eliciting a feeling of a heavy armoured army slowly marching forward. A great and simple solo in the middle further builds up the great atmosphere of the song.
“Gates of Valhalla” fits well the developed mood, yet I find it hard to say much about it. It’s a song that sounds good when you listen the album throughout, but it’s not one you come back to when making a best-of-Manowar playlist . The closing “March for Revenge” also fits the description to some extent, albeit being a bit more tiring due to irritating chorus (fortunately Ross the Boss saves the day in the second part). “Hatred” is somewhat better with memorable vocal performance by Eric Adams, who really put his heart into expressing how much hatred flows through his veins every single day.
The only track competing with “Secrets of Steel” as the best one on the album is for me the sixth one - “Revelation”. Inspired by the biblical description of the apocalypse, it's better than the Bible thanks to galloping percussion and guitarwork sustaining the atmosphere of impending doom, bolstering the uniqueness of the song, as I can hardly find a comparable one among others made by them in terms of general feeling. I really like the lyrics – wanted to paste here an excerpt, but finally I think it will be best to read / listen to all of it with the music. The description of the final hours speaks to the imagination well and thanks to it’s easy to see everything as though you were a spectator of the violent event and thus to get immersed in the piece.
Is it a good album then to start your Manowar experience with? Well, yes and no. I’d be hesitant to recommend this album to people who would like to know what the term “Manowar” really means as it’s not a very representative record, being longer, less accessible and not so cheerful as their popular staples. Even though it shares common band’s themes like praising violence, metal music, not giving a ***, fantasy and singing about themselves, contrary to most newer records it rarely crosses the line of self-parody, with the promo song being the only possible case. “Into Glory Ride” is worth of checking out when you’ve already crossed them out basing on their other works - a dark themed, mid-tempo and well-crafted piece of heavy metal that reflects the time when they were still fresh and developing.