If you aren’t familiar with Manowar, this album would make a fine first step on the journey towards fandom. It is a powerful, grand and impressive sounding ‘80s Heavy Metal album that contains elements of Thrash and Power Metal at different times, but more or less serves as the distillation and perfection of the original Heavy Metal ideals.
Its got a mix of fun and serious lyrics. Sometimes boastful and silly, sometimes story-telling and evocative. Its got a mixture of all sorts of speeds. Its got aggression and restraint. Its also got a fair deal of variety on here, its not just the same type of thing over and over again.
“Sting Of The Bumblebee” is on there for example; which as you’ve probably heard is Joey DiMaio’s frantic bass solo/instrumental track (even though its essentially a bass solo there are drums in there too at times) based on the famous Classical Music piece “Flight Of The Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
There are also three different ballads/slow tracks/orchestral tracks in the form of “The Crown And The Ring (Lament Of The Kings),” “Heart Of Steel” and “Kingdom Come.” They are all very different versions of the whole Metal band being quiet theme. Normally three such tracks on one album would be overkill, but somehow the variety and difference in style between them lets it work.
Then there’s also “The Warrior’s Prayer,” which is essentially a four-minute intro. It’s a spoken word story, with some sound effects. No music. Overlong in my personal opinion, but I can’t knock them for variety.
“Pleasure Slave” is a slower number. Heavy, but slow. Kind of Sabbathy. The lyrics are beyond ridiculous to the point, I assume, of parody. Still, it’s a strong track that’s got a nice doomy mood going on. Just not one to listen to with any feminists in the room.
All of these of course augment the faster, livelier, more bombastic tracks on the album: “Wheels Of Fire,” “Kings Of Metal,” “Hail And Kill,” “Blood Of The Kings.” These are some of the finest tracks on the album, the band’s career, or the genre overall. These are catchy, enjoyable, impressive tracks that are really impactful. The sort of stand-up-and-take-notice “did you hear how awesome that was?” Heavy Metal that you’ve been longing for since you first got into this sort of music. You want to know if you should listen to Manowar? Give one of those a listen!
If like me, you weren’t recommended Manowar straight away, or stayed away from the band out of fear that their internet-meme status was ill-deserved and their death-to-false-metal war cries would either ring hollow or obnoxious, then you should right that mistake as soon as possible and fill this clear and obvious gap in your collection. If not, you’d be missing out on some of the finest Metal music ever released.
Do you sometimes get an album and listen to it for a few weeks then sort of forget about it, and most of the time get an album and keep it in regular rotation for a few months then let it slip out slowly too? This is one of those ones that you can constantly hammer for half-a-year or more without getting even slightly bored with. This is the bee’s knees. Do yourself a favour and at least give it a try.