There is simply no other Heavy Metal band near MANOWAR in terms macho bravado posturing and outrageousness. They are they very true essence of classic Heavy Metal. Tales of battle, the clash of steel against steel, bodies torn asunder, glory and honour, death and majesty all evoke the over the top escapist nature of the music.
Ever since 1982 and the bands inaugural offering the mighty ‘’Battle Hymns’’ the world (and this includes a large chunk of the Metal-world) has laughed and snorted at the homo-eroticism, the less than accomplished lyrics and of course the loin cloth and muscle image. However now quarter of a century into a career that many thought would have died like so many bands before them sees MANOWAR release their tenth album at a stage when they have never seemed as popular.
‘’Gods Of War’’ is a concept album about, who else: Odin. Indeed you may argue that all MANOWAR albums are concept albums as they all deal with the rudiments of battle but ‘’Gods Of War’’ raises the bar to an altogether new level in servitude to True Heavy Metal and all that envelopes it. For all the simplistic riff-verse-chorus Metal that MANOWAR has developed over the years ‘’Gods Of War’’ is nothing short of epic. It’s epic in length, construction, production and development and never before has MANOWAR attempted anything remotely like it.
DeMaio obviously hasn’t deemed it worthwhile to drop the blundering fillers that first saw light of day on ‘’Warriors Of The World’’. Of course a concept album requires some license, respite to tell the tale but a six minute keyboard opening followed by another two minute plus keyboard indulgence does slightly lend itself to much groaning and impatience. Unfortunately the album is littered with such interludes and lyrically just how many times can a band sing about Odin and crossing the rainbow bridge before restlessness sets in?
Still when MANOWAR spark up the cannon an almighty volley of True Metal is unleashed. From the teeth rattling riffing of ‘’King Of Kings", the brisk up-tempo drive of ‘’Sleipnir’’ the glorious hoof-pounding thunder of ‘’Loki God Of Fire’’ to the emphatic chorus driven magnificence of ‘’Sons Of Odin’’ and ‘’Gods Of War’’ MANOWAR is once again holding the reins of all conquering Heavy Metal.
Musically the one note riffing so favoured on the last two releases is pinned backed in favour of some, but not a striking amount, of diversity from guitarist Karl Logan. Drummer Scott Columbus doesn’t much get above the four-four steady beat but he is still a power house of the back line. Vocalist Eric Adams continues to impress with a voice that goes from strength to strength and is MANOWAR’s most potent weapon. Just hearing his imposing vocal delivery on ‘’Blood Brothers ‘’or ‘’Hymn Of The Immortal Warrior’’ demonstrates that he has lost none of the power and prowess that has made him one of Metal’s finest singers. As for DeMaio the true heart of MANOWAR his signatory bass lines have faded in favour of being in total control be it as musician, producer, and manager or Heavy Metal tour de force.
For the most part ‘’Gods Of War’’ does everything you’d expect a MANOWAR album to do but like stable mates RHAPSODY OF FIRE (any guesses who is close to them?) it does suffer from profligacy and musical waste. MP3 users will have already sheered this album down to eight tracks of bombastic Metal. Cut away much of the morass add in a bit more Metal might and MANOWAR will have recorded an album fit for a band of their stature and perhaps their best in twenty years.
(Online May 20, 2007)