In many ways, not least the artwork, the album feels a bit like Kiss’ Destroyer. After the rawer early stuff, the band start throwing in samples of speeding cars, adding lighter sing-along anthems and in many ways taking a bigger, more commercial sound designed to elevate them to new heights.
At least, that’s how it initially feels. The title-track feels like Manowar only watered down a tiny bit…. “Blow Your Speakers” feels like Manowar lyrically but the sound sounds a bit, dare I say, almost glam? …then “Cary On” seems like an even bigger step too far. Was this the same band who wrote “All Men Play On Ten” and sang about priding themselves on never selling out or having a thin sound? – In reality its just an anthem in the Judas Priest sense, ala “Defenders Of The Faith,” “United” or “Take On The World” but on first impressions it might throw people for a loop.
Even though this first half feels like the mighty Manowar might’ve been considering selling out (and luckily history tells us this didn’t happen, judging by the excellent albums that followed) the second half of the record puts to rest such notions. There’s the epic, grandiose “Defender” and the speedy crushing “Violence & Blood Shed” “Holy War” and especially “Black Wind, Fire And Steel.” These exciting, vital sounding, furiously catchy Heavy Metal tunes are everything that’s great about Manowar… the guitar solos, the double kicks and unusual drum fills, the varied and impressive vocals… the sheer triumphant attitude and entertaining energy. Yes… this is top quality stuff indeed.
The other two tracks are essentially just the slow moody intros to the aforementioned “Holy War” and “Black Wind, Fire And Steel” and to be honest you could easily consider them to be part of those songs if they weren’t written down separately. They provide a little bit of variety and are entertaining, and certainly they augment the tracks which they seem paired with, but don’t feel overly worth writing home about in and of themselves.
When you think of the half-hour album in terms of containing three fantastic, powerful and varied classic Heavy Metal tracks, alongside one vastly entertaining epic, then the fact that the first three songs are of an unexpected musical direction isn’t really too much of a problem. That and well, even if they are stylistically not what you’d go and ask for, they are actually pretty damn catchy and enjoyable once you give them a few listens. Eric Adams goes a bit more Paul Stanley than Rob Halford here, but hey… at least the band isn’t just putting the same record out again and again.
Overall; a lot of people are a bit suspicious and put-off by this album. Despite this if you are into Manowar you should still absolutely give it a chance. If not you’d be missing out on some blindingly good Heavy Metal tunes like “Violence & Bloodshed” & “Black Wind, Fire And Steel” and a bit of diversity.