MANOWAR is always a fun listen, no matter the album. While not the biggest fan of their work, I do have and enjoy “Kings Of Metal” and “The Triumph Of Steel” in particular. I've heard their most recent full length release, “Warriors Of The World”, maligned by some as being too long-winded and drawn-out. This certainly isn't the case on “Thunder In The Sky”, and may point towards a more basic style for MANOWAR's next release.
The six main songs here, with the sole exception of the ballad “Father”, are pretty much the standard “blood, guts, glory, and steel” bit that every MANOWAR fan has heard before and will continue wanting until the day they die. Probably, this EP will be a welcome return to form for many fans of the band's older work. There's nothing new or original to hook people on with this release, but you've definitely come to the wrong band if that's what you're looking for.
What MANOWAR do, they do well, and “Thunder In The Sky” is, plainly put, good. The mid-tempo Heavy Metal bliss is supplemented by a few short but excellent pieces of solo work by Karl Logan, while the vocals of Eric Adams are as thunderous as ever. My personal favorite song on the album is “God Or Man”, boasting some hefty screams, slightly more original lyrics, and some fine guitar work. The slower song, “Father”, is issued on a second cd in 15 different languages other than English. It’s unexceptional. I appreciate the band's (particularly Adams') effort in recording the song in such a wide spread of languages. But probably, it would have been more effective with one of the fan favorites, and not some mediocre ballad.
The whole concept behind “Thunder In The Sky”, the upcoming “Hammer Of The Gods”, and the entire “Asgard Saga” that MANOWAR have announced, is extremely ambitious and kind of corny. Despite that, I can't help but think that I wouldn't mind checking out the other content they have in mind (book? movie?). I don't know how much real hope I bear of it being successful or of high quality, but can you really sneer at a Heavy Metal band putting this much time and effort into their work? Perhaps they're just milking their fans for money to a degree, but I don't think MANOWAR would put this much effort into a project of this scale if they didn't intend to try pretty damn hard.
So in a nutshell, this is a pretty neat little EP, with the second disc discarded from my rating (it’s good for an occasional listen or if you speak one of the plethora of languages). If you dig MANOWAR, you'll eat it up. If you don't, this certainly isn't going to change your mind. If you're one of the many in the middle, you'll probably enjoy it well enough. It's worth at least a glance to see what MANOWAR are up to in the studio these days. Dripping with cheese and blood, Manowar soldiers onwards.
(Online October 9, 2010)