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Ah Manowar, the only heavy metal band in existence at the time this album came out, other than Black Sabbath. This is according to them of course. The irony is that this is as much a rock n roll album as a heavy metal one. There's nothing crushingly heavy about this or anything they've done, despite their claims to the contrary. Like their peers in Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol, they took a few albums into their career to shed their hot rockin' roots.
The first five songs are all rock songs, although they do a bang-up job at writing rock. These are summertime, '70s high-school parking lot songs, especially Metal Daze. Shell Shock has a slightly metallish intro riff and is sort of heavy. The song Manowar, meanwhile, is muscular and has a big, feel-good chorus. If He-Man sang in a rock band this is what it would sound like. Eric Adams sounds so young and vibrant. He comes from the Dio/Dickinson school of vocalists: his strength is in a clear, powerful midrange punctuated by high notes.
Their sound is bass dominated but guitarist Ross the Boss shared equal songwriting credits on this album with Joey Demaio. The man had a positive impact on this band, even though his writing contributions would be scaled back to a song or two per album after this, his solos were always good. Donnie Hamzik meanwhile, is a busier drummer than Scott Columbus.
Dark Avenger is where the band starts to really flex their metallic muscle. A brooding, crushing bass riff drives this song to the narration part, with the guitars complementing instead of dominating the sound. It's different from the conventional rock mentality but adds to the originality of this band. This song ends on a speed metal note with Adams screaming his lungs out and The Boss burning through solos. Williams Tale is the reason this is one of the few Manowar albums that is good right through and that's because this is the one time where they got the bass instrumental right. Every bass solo they did after this is fucking stupid.
Battle Hymn ends the album in the most epic fashion, a fist-pumping anthem that would make even the most pacifist peace-loving hippie want to go to war. It will get you ready for Hyborian Age battle. Robert E. Howard would be proud. The riffs are simple but mighty, the chorus with that ancient background chanting will take you back a thousand years and the solo just rips my head off every time.
Sure, this band would become cheesy and pompous down the road, but in these days they were one-of-a-kind songwriters. I can't really think of anything else to compare this to. Maybe Judas Priest meets Dio meets Kiss, but these guys do their own thing. This is recommended for anyone interested in classic metal. It's got a pump-you-up with good vibes kind of feel to it.
1982: Let's imagine Manowar at this point in their lives:
Bassist and mastermind; Joey DeMaio, 28, desperate to make his mark in the metal world, head swirling with lofty aspirations. Frontman; Eric Adams, also 28, easily spouting Ian Gillan-isms yet hungry to be recognized as a singular vocal talent. Ross "the Boss" Friedman, 28, eager to annihilate yet still very much restrained and Donnie Hamzik, just a hired hand? (He didn't return for "Into Glory Ride" released just eleven months later).
You'll have to pardon my highfalutin-bordering-on-comic sketch of the guys but Manowar have always been prime candidates for the hatchet. And we all know they had lofty ideals-hell, they signed their contract with Liberty Records in blood and have since gone on record as the loudest band.
For all their ambition however, "Battle Hymns" yields to the traditional form of heavy metal and the epic le grand "Dark Avenger" (complete with Orson Welles' cinematic narration) aside, there isn't much variety. And yet this conformity to tradition-delivered so rawly and urgently-is what makes the album such a wow and essential listening.
Joey DeMaio is showy but not overbearing and his lyrics are not lost in a sea of futile speech. The "call to arms" tone and message in "Battle Hymn" still sounds vital to this day as a part of the Manowar Experience while the wit and leery charm of "Fast Taker" cannot be denied by all in possession of a sense of humour.
This is "Vanquishing Metal" at its best. Eric sounds inciting and tireless on every song, forcefully bringing the full intent and meaning behind every word. Although later this would mean his intonation leaves little to the imagination, here it is all grist to the mill. And if you still think it is overdone - I kindly beg you to have a little perspective. After all, this is Manowar's first full on assault.
Ross The Boss does not let himself be overshadowed by Joey in the rhythm department but it is for his fiery leads that he'll be most remembered on this album and Donnie Hamzik does a good job but Scott Columbus (R.I.P) did an even better one on the follow up "Into Glory Ride" where the ideas planted here were fully germinated.
What does "Battle Hymns" mean to us this day? Well, it shows a band accused of excess at their leanest , playing with such heart and such sonic thunder, and with an urgency that would be severely lessened for most of their career. The close they came to playing such vital metal in their post-"Hail To England" days is a few songs on "Warriors Of The World".
But enough with the gloom, here is material tinged with agelessness. An album worth re-discovering .
The guys unwittingly created a masterpiece! Enjoy it for all its intentions and what it truly delivers.
Manowar's status as the laughing stock of metal/music is a pretty good example of just how metal is misunderstood by the masses, and indeed, by the fans themselves... So what if there's an album cover or two of them dressed in loincloths? Are those outfits really any stupider then those in Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band? Besides, it's clearly somewhat tongue in cheek. Their lyrics also get some crap, but how are their lyrics any worse than, say, "Here comes the Sun, do do do doo, here comes the sun and I say, It's alright", or, say, "Purple Haze"? Or 99% of rock in general? Or, indeed, the more sophisticated, "urbane" genres like jazz or soul? Manowar are a good band that's got a bad rap for no real reason other than being unashamedly metal; and it's a real shame that they're mocked not just by the "outside", as it were, but by those within the metal community. Which brings us to this album; it's a really, really good bit of heavy metal that would be a common household album if Manowar got the tribute they deserve.
Not being all that familiar with this sort of metal/hard rock it's hard to really spot the influences, a rough guess suggests that it's somewhere between Thin Lizzy, Maiden and Sabbath; certainly the doomy and epic "Dark Avenger" has a lot of love for the last two bands there. It's fast in places and there's plenty of speed metal on offer here but for every heavy, almost thrashing bit like the end of Dark Avenger, there's some straight forward, rocking sort of stuff like "Shell Shock" (which has some pretty rad lyrics) and "Manowar". Normally that sort of stuff would be a real low point for me but here it's catchy as all hell and bursting with energy and vigour; the major key riffing in "Manowar" being particularly catchy and infectious.
The final track of the album in particular is a great example of just untouchable these guys are when they're at their best. Sure, the mellow pre-solo bit is a bit unnecessary, but the intro sets the tone brilliantly, the main riff is transcendent 3/4 battle metal glory; chances are you've heard millions of riffs that sound really, really similar, but none can match the sheer valour and might of this one. And this all before the chorus comes along... damn, is it really possible to make a song as epic, as stirring, as this one? I think not.
Something of Battle Hymn's quality would be an obvious highlight of a typical metal album, here it's just a great way to end a really, really good album. These guys often throw in a few filler tracks here and there throughout their albums; here the only real moment where things go downhill is the (absolutely terrible) bass solo "William's Tale". Whether it's the energetic rock/metal of "Fast Taker" or "Shell Shock", the huge chorus and don't care vibe of "Metal Daze", or the few epics in this album, every song on this is a keeper. Eric's vocals are probably the thing that really makes the songs, particularly the shorter ones; the warts-and-all recording job does a really great job of representing his singing style; surprisingly versatile, very powerful; very passionate. He holds nothing back in his vocals; whether screaming or laying down some tuneful melodies. I'm sure some idiots would label it "melodramatic", I tend to call it "being passionate about your music", which surely isn't a bad thing? Indeed, the whole band is pretty passionate about the music; certainly the drummer's beating the crap out of his kit, while Joey and Ross lay down on the strings with typical Manowar passion and energy.
Manowar deserve celebration far more so then mockery, definitely. No big deal though; if music critics would rather listen to Motown then this then clearly they've got some sort of serious mental illness and there's nothing we can do. Needless to say you seriously need this album if you like good music.
Manowar’s debut is widely regarded as a classic of early 80s heavy metal before the spawning of ‘false metal’ glam acts, as well as Manowar’s own increasing movement towards self-parody, robbed the genre of its credibility. That’s not to say that ‘Battle Hymns,’ for all its legacy, is an entirely sombre and sinister affair, featuring the band’s usual ridiculous lyrics on numerous themes from bikes to heavy metal to ancient battles, but sung over music that remains true to the spirit and sound of early, simplistic metal without any of the pompous excess that would later turn the band into a laughing stock.
Collecting most of the songs recorded by the band in the previous two years, ‘Battle Hymns’ is something of a mixed bag with songs heading in often wildly different directions, the earlier pieces tending more towards a party atmosphere in the vein of Kiss, but with more testosterone, and the final three songs experimenting with a more epic sound that had never been attempted before, but has since spawned numerous sub-genres within heavy metal. Eric Adams’ distinctive wail hasn’t reached its full power yet despite a valiant effort to hold notes at the end of many songs, and like many bands’ first releases it’s entertaining to hear how much younger he sounds than on their definitive ‘Kings of Metal.’ Joey DeMaio is the band’s founder, primary song-writer and bass player, and there are no limits to his ego. Not only does DeMaio intersperse most songs with complex and foregrounded bass riffs over the guitars, but the penultimate song is handed over to him entirely as he speeds through the William Tell Overture with no thought for the safety of his fingers or the attention span of the listener, also writing the band’s title song that explains their English origins (DeMaio was a roadie and tech for Black Sabbath, where he ‘heard the call’) and the steps that led to them becoming, clearly, the most powerful force on the planet.
The remainder of the band comprises musicians who would both soon depart, making way for the classic line-up. Ross Funicello’s guitar work is good, but is noticeably weak compared to DeMaio’s bass work, requiring the talents of his later replacement Ross “The Boss” to provide more effective competition. As such, most of the riffs are very simplistic to the point of sounding derivative of other bands, and the guitar solos are nothing spectacular, though the long-forgotten Funicello admirably keeps up to speed on the faster pieces such as ‘Manowar,’ and employs interesting effects in the songs that follow. Scott Columbus’ predecessor on the drum kit is Donnie Hamzik, drafted in from a newspaper advertisement put out by DeMaio and Adams and doing his job as promised, but once again failing to make a lasting impression. There’s nothing here to rival the drums on later songs such as ‘March for Revenge,’ but for the more straightforward songs that dominate this album, Hamzik is essentially required to play fast and hard, and he does so competently.
1. Death Tone
2. Metal Daze
3. Fast Taker
4. Shell Shock
6. Dark Avenger
7. William’s Tale
8. Battle Hymn
As mentioned earlier, there is a very clear split in this album between the two styles of song, made even more obvious by the original double-sided vinyl than the CD version. Opener ‘Death Tone’ is a fairly fast and energetic song in which the character of a juvenile biker spouts some truly abominable lyrics (‘I give some square the finger,’ etc.), and is very similar both lyrically and musically to ‘Fast Taker,’ the appropriately faster speed of which makes it the more exciting of the two, as well as its more original guitar work. The song between, ‘Metal Daze,’ is the first of oh-so-many anthems dedicated to the glory of heavy metal, and easily my least favourite song on the album due to its unwise and unconvincing chorus chanting. Later live versions are much more credible, as the crowd sings along instead of this stilted-sounding noise, but it’s also incredibly uneventful and dull, especially at this early point. ‘Shell Shock’ is one of the more memorable songs, describing the debilitating after-effects of Vietnam from the perspective of an ex-soldier but also scorning those who escaped the war, represented by the despised ‘businessman at home.’ I’m sure there are several thousand more emotive and worthwhile songs about the Vietnam conflict out there, but with its cool riff, incredibly catchy rhythm and fine chorus, this would still be my favourite. This first, uneven ‘half’ of the album is concluded with the band’s titular song ‘Manowar,’ which strives to be even faster and more full of energy than those that have come before it, and succeeds to some extent. At only three-and-a-half minutes long it feels a little unsatisfying and brief, despite another great chorus, but the band would make sure to record many more testaments to their own greatness over the next twenty-five years and beyond. Excellent.
While the first half of the album effectively offers a slightly rougher and more energetic version of the sound Judas Priest had moved beyond two years previously, it’s the remaining songs of the album (with one very definite exception that is easy to spot) that elevate this record to classic and influential status, beginning the epic sound that the band would embrace more fully on their second album as they began to deal with Viking themes. ‘Dark Avenger’ is a brilliant song of two halves, the first a slow, dark and foreboding bass and guitar instrumental of sorts overlaid with narration from the inimitable diaphragm of Orson Welles. The dialogue is fairly silly and simplistic fantasy pap, detailing the story of the eponymous dark avenger riding up from Hell on his demon horse Black Death, before an escalating ‘woah’ from Eric Adams rises to an ear-splitting scream and the song hits its stride. The final few minutes are back in familiar territory, but with grander aspirations, and some humorously sexist lyrics that the band encourage us to sing along to, not for the last time. The bass instrumental ‘William’s Tale’ then proceeds to waste a couple of minutes in an extremely shoddy sounding display of fast string-plucking to an over-familiar tune, before the album delivers its final and most satisfying punch in the form of the semi-titular ‘Battle Hymn.’ Originally recorded for Manowar’s demo release, this song takes the slow and heavy approach of ‘Dark Avenger’ and mixes in some lighter sections of acoustic guitar and even a very drastic piano break, which ends up sounding a little too out of place and lullaby-like amidst all the death and destruction. It’s one of the purest Manowar classics, and the song that launched a thousand thousand geeky fantasy metal bands.
Manowar’s debut is far from being their strongest album, being beaten very satisfyingly by the next few subsequent releases before the band’s deterioration with their move to a major label towards the end of the decade. It nevertheless remains one of their most enduringly popular, especially among non-hardcore fans who can appreciate its greater simplicity in the era of NWOB(A)HM, the New Wave of British (and American) Heavy Metal, and who would likely find the greater excesses of all their subsequent albums a little off-putting. I enjoy this album for its diversity, but with the far greater things they would produce soon hereafter it’s not an album I often listen to in full, often opting for a quick blast of ‘Dark Avenger’ or ‘Shell Shock,’ two very different songs, one of which will always be ideally suited to my mood at any given time.
I'm a huge Manowar fan. I love all of their albums. I know how a lot of people feel about Manowar, so this review takes those people into consideration.
People who don't like Manowar can like this album. It's not nearly as "cheesy" as the later works, including lyrics. It's still got the Manowar sound that all Manowar fans love, but it's different in some way. There's a really "young" sound to it, which isn't surprising since this is their debut. It's more straight forward, and less over the top.
The vocals from Eric Adams are top notch, as always. Probably one of the high points of this album. He puts attitude in his vocals, and he's got a really powerful voice. He can hit the low and high notes. His vocals give Manowar part of their distinctive sound, and I think he's great on this album. Very accessible vocals, easy to sing along to, and very FUN to sing along to.
Joey DeMaio, the bassist, and main songwriter, shows on this album. He uses an 8 string bass on some songs (like Battle Hymn), and plays it like a regular guitar, with a pick. He's got some great basslines on here, like on Fast Taker and his solo, William's Tale. He mainly follows the rhythm guitar, but he has some leads and sometimes he stops playing pedal riffs. He adds some of the "power" to Manowar, since his 8 string bass is tuned as a bass with a second string set tuned one octave higher (so it's EeAaDdGg). I've been told the intro to "Battle Hymn" is this bass alone, but I'm not sure on this.
The guitar work is catchy, and the riffs are epic sounding and very memorable. The leads are even more memorable, and I find myself singing along to them every time I listen to this album. None of the guitar work is very technical, and the guitar sounds like it's layered once, so there are two rhythm guitars, and one rhythm guitar during leads. Joey provides rhythm during the leads at some times.
The drumming isn't remarkable. It's just average 1980s heavy metal drumming. Just there to add some power to the music and to keep time. Not much to say here.
Manowar has had an awesome career, and this is the start of it. I started with this album, and I'd advise new fans to do the same. If you're into Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, or any heavy metal or power metal from the 80s, you'll like this album. I don't see why a lot of people hate Manowar, but it's their loss I say.
My favorite tracks are Death Tone, Metal Daze, Fast Taker and Battle Hymn.
Manowar's debut album, entitled Battle Hymns was first released in 1982, and is easily my favourite Manowar album. It's simple, everything on it works, and it's fucking good fun. Manowar's songwriting is questionable at times but on this album the lyrics work just fine, with tolerable levels of cheesiness.
Death Tone - The first song on the album, after some rather funky motorbike sound effects the guitars kick in, and we are introduced to Manowar. This song is fun, lighthearted and almost tongue in cheek. The lyrics are typical ass-kicking Manowar fare "I give some square the finger, now he won't look again". It is interesting to see the reference to the vietnam war, and the message of the song basically is, while all the pussies stayed at home, Manowar went to fight. Also, the solo on this song really fits with the atmosphere, unlike some Manowar songs where I get the impression the solo has just been taped on for the sake of it.
Metal Daze - This song IMO is pure pop, there is nothing about this song that would stop it being a major mainstream success. The lyrical content here is more consistent with later Manowar songs; Heavy metal, loud as it can be. It has to be said, as I listen to this song, it has a truly great concert which instantly screams "audience participation", and after watching Manowar's performance of the song at Blood in Brazil, it becomes obvious this is the songs strength; 30,000 metalheads screaming "Heavy metal" is something that really has to be heard.
Fast Taker - After the mid tempo of the first two songs, Fast Taker comes as a welcome fast number. It is not as memorable perhaps as the first two, but still features some great riffage and basswork. Lyrical content is similar to Death Tone, the basic message is, Manowar do what they want.
Shell Shock - Again, a song about the Vietnam war. After Fast Taker sped things up, Shell Shock slows them down again. This is perhaps the weakest song on the album (Not counting William's Tale) but still good fun and much better to some of the songs on Manowar's other albums.
Manowar - Ah, this is more like it. As a song named after the band, it does exactly what you would expect it to do - tell the listener a bit about the band, and it does just this. The verses talk about how the band met, and how they decided they were going to play, and the chorus "Manowar, born to live forever" is basically a message to all that Manowar has arrived on the scene and are here to stay, an accurate prediction, cos they're making another album right now. Another of my favourite parts of this song is the ending. Long and self-indulgent. Heavy fucking metal.
Dark Avenger - The album is definitely picking up here, with this doomy gloomy epic, hinting perhaps at the direction the band were going to take on widely acclaimed follow up Into Glory Ride. The first section tells the story of a man committing some sort of crime against his leaders, and being left to die. At about 2:36 the song changes completely, and the narration of legendary actor Orson Welles kicks in. Listeners at this point may well be wondering, "What the fuck is Orson Welles doing on a Manowar album???" well to answer the question, in Manowar's early days, they were admired by Orson, as their struggle to find fame apparently mirrorred his own and he identified with them because of this. Anyway, after a grim minute of narration, the typical cheesiness given an uncharacteristic gravity thanks to Welles, the song truly kicks in. After the line "The pounding of his hooves, did clap, like thunder" Eric Adams launches into the best scream he has ever done in his career. The last, fast section of the song describes the Dark Avenger himself taking revenge upon the society which cast him out. And as many others will tell you, it fucking owns. "In blood I take my payment, in full, with their lives" oh fucking yes. I love the momentum on this song, despite being an epic, it never drags for a second and I love the way the slow first section acts as a counterpoint to the kickass riffage of the last. A true Manowar classic...
William's Tale - ...and then they go and ruin their momentum with this 1:54 wankfest. I'm told it's some sort of classical piece played on a bass, however there is nothing about this that does not cry out "Skip button". I have never understood why Manowar do this on almost every album, but ah well, I suppose you've gotta take the rough with the smooth. Warlord should be here instead of this, it didn't fit on IGR and William's Tale is just pointless. Thankfully...
Battle Hymn - The greatest Manowar song of all time is next. Battle Hymn is Manowar's most powerful, most epic, and most inspiring masterpiece to date. After an introduction which sends shivers down my spine, Donny Hamzik's drum fill leads into a glorious slow galloping riff. The lyrics are Manowar. That's the only way to describe them. Eric Adams gives a sublime vocal performance on this song, for instance I love the way he sticks to the music in the first verse, and in the second verse bends his notes and throws his voice around more; the song seems to gain more momentum every second. This peaks with the second chorus "Victory! Victory!" after which we see the first in a very, very long history of Manowar habits - the cheesy interlude. However, I must admit I actually quite enjoy this one. Given the light hearted nature of most of the previous songs this particular interlude just makes me laugh. The lyrics are silly, very silly, but it never drags. After another drum fill from Hamzik, the song kicks off again with another scream from Adams, then it's back to "Kill! Kill!" before the final verse is sung a full octave higher by Adams. His voice here is fucking amazing, unlike power metal singers with clean eunuch screams he howls with attitude and just fucking owns almost every other singer out there. The song, and subsequently the album, ends with a trademark massive ending, which just fits perfectly.
In conclusion - Manowar's best album. IGR might be more epic, Hail to england might be heavier, but everything on this album is true fucking quality. The songwriting is never forced or too cheesy, the songs themselves are solid, the synergy between the musicians is just fine, the production is balls but hey this is 1982, and it's got fucking Orson Welles on it!! Kill!
As everyone else already said, the album is divided into two parts, the five first songs and the the three last.
The first part is typical metal ranging from decent (Manowar) to good (Metal Daze), the songs Death Tone, Fast Taker and Shell Shock are okay but certainly nothing special. The lyrics to these songs are decent (few bands have good lyrics), the riffs are good and the vocals are great. The songs are too similar in structure though, it wouldn't have heart if there been a slower song among those, or anything that would have given a bit more variation. Well, these songs aren't the reason I listen to this album.
The last three tracks are superb on the other hand. Well, William's Tale isn't quite a song, it's a bass solo showing the bassist's perfected skills. Much better than Metallica's (Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth. And it fits in perfectly between the songs Dark Avenger and Battle Hymn, which are among the best Epic Metal songs ever written.
Dark Avenger consists of three parts, it starts slowly, the first part wouldn't be misplaced in a Doom Metal album. Second part is the narration by Orson Wells, it fits in perfectly. And the last part is the faster part with great riffs and a superb vocal performance. And I haven't even mentioned the vocals. An epic classic!
Battle Hymn, this is a musical orgasm, the epitome of Epic Metal: perfect guitar intro, superb vocals, awesome slow middle part and killing lyrics. The created atmosphere is immense. Manowar's best song and one of the best songs ever!
The high score is mostly based on the three last tracks, those tracks are the reason I bought this album. The score would've been higher if there had been more epic tracks. One of the best debuts ever. With this record Manowar into glory rode.
This is what Manowar should sound like. Singing about Metal in every single song may get a bit repetitive, no matter how good the songs are. Battle Hymn still holds true to the “Heavy Metal or no Metal at all” tradition of Manowar, but it also offers exciting songs that don’t necessarily deal with Metal. “Death Tone,” which is a song about going to war while the other pussy hippies stay at home, is a great representation of what Manowar started of as, and should have stayed throughout their careers. Fun, stimulating, sing-along-to are all examples of the greatness that is this album.
“Metal Daze,” the song that probably everyone knows, and sounds likes the self-proclaimed Metal anthem, is one of the best songs on the album. Singing “Heavy Metal, Metal Daze, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal Daaaaazze” over and over again send chills of electrifying power through your body, sort of speak. This is a very fun album, which does not contain as much of the “cheese” factor as the later Manowar albums have.
Songs like “Fast Taker,” “Death Tone” and “Shell Shock” are all fast-bang-your-head-to-tracks that are not about the glory of Metal, which, in all honesty, is a good thing. These alterations in a Manowar album are welcome changes that only improve the quality of the album. This first album by Manowar has a much higher replay value than the albums that would follow because of the three songs that I have mentioned. Sure, singing about Metal is great, and it’s awesome to sing along to, but it shouldn’t be overdone.
The song “Manowar” is a bit weaker compared to the other tracks. It still is well written, and offers a similar punch as the other tracks, but I expected a tad more from a song titled after the band. No big deal, as it does add variation to the album, and is well positioned in the track listing. The track that follows is the epic song “Dark Avenger” with narration by non other than the great Orson Wells. A great story of Greek mythology, I believe, tells of a dark avenger, that stands against the elders and rebels. The song begins with singing vocals, with simple melody in the background. At about two minutes and 30 seconds Orson Wells narrates the story, which is the introduction to the exhilarating-bang-your-fucking-head-to-throw-the-horns-rape-the-daughters-and-the-wives part of the song.
“Burning, death, destruction raping the daughters and wives
In blood I take my payment in full with their lives .”
Lyrics that are very memorable, and music that makes your ear drums bleed. Great guitar and drum work and amazing vocals that kill posers without even trying.
“William’s Tale,” is the track that most other Manowar albums have. It’s the track that doesn’t really belong there and should have been deleted. Of course it’s not “Nassun Dorma” of Warriors of the World, because it is much better than that. “William’s Tale” is basically a guitar instrumental rendition of the famous melody. It is very well played, therefore I can’t complain that much, as it is certainly not another “Nassun Dorma” but it still isn’t up to par with the rest of the album.
The last track, which is also the title track, is a familiar song to the later Manowar songs. It is basically a “We’re all united and fighting for Metal” type of song. It may be a bit cheesy but it does have great sing-along-to lyrics and therefore is a great finish to a great album. The instrumental parts, even the simple guitar parts at the beginning are all exceptional. Not so much in technicality, but in composition style and overall fitting melody to the “Metal anthem.” This song is one of the highlights of the album, and well deserving the praise. Manowar will later be known for such songs, but surely not in this caliber. “Battle Hymn” is a most excellent ending to one of the greatest Manowar albums.
Manowar is known for their “cheesy” songs, but make no mistake, Battle Hymn is not the album that gave people that impression. Filled with amazingly fun and headbanging songs, Battle Hymn should be in every Manowar fan’s collection. Others, who don’t necessarily like Manowar should also give this a well deserved listen, as it is not your typical Manowar album.
Say what you will about the metal in-joke that Manowar have become but this first record is a classic slab of tough-guy rock and roll that without the image and tacky interview bits should stand alone as a benefit to heavy metal. The production is a little lame (though much better on the re-master), but who can deny such talented riffcraft and emotional vocalizing? (This is before Eric Adams became a parody of the genre entirely you know...) Not I, sayeth the Von.
Songs like "Death Tone", "Battle Hymn" and and "Metal Daze" all stomp and claw with a rock and roll menace all of thier own. The riffs rule, the vocals are passionate and if you ignore the lyrics this stands out as much as any important early-1980's heavy metal record. "I WENT TO THE BIG HOUSE YOU JUST WORK A JOB!!!!!!" Yep...sing it Erik. I am hardly traditional Manowarrior though...as I think the song "Dark Avenger" kinda sucks...but when these boys rock out...they ROCK OUT.
"Battle Hymns" is a classic release for ANY band and Manowar did the right thing at the right time in writing/releasing this music to the world. Say what you will about the band now, but on their first four cheesy-yet-brilliant records these guys actually WERE the "kings of metal" in their own inconceivable way.
"Hail & Kill" ya silly bastards.
The first Manowar album proves to be quite the debut for the self-acclaimed "Kings Of Metal" - not yet dealing as much with the over-the-top image as would happen in years to come and concentrating more on the song-writing and music itself.
Like said in another review - the album is basically split in half - although instead of taking the "first five" songs - i'd rather do a 4 - 4 - the first four being decent rock ' roll tunes (with "Metal Daze" and "Fast Taker" being the highlights - the first a catchy "heavy metal anthem" like the band would produce so many more of in the future (and probably a couple TOO many eventually), the second an excellent, speedy rocker).
The second half though is where it gets "really classic" - beginning with the anthem which would and will remain in the setlist forever - the band's namesake "Manowar", going into the excellent and atmospheric "Dark Avenger" (with a spoken interlude by Orson Welles) then the "song" which everyone usually tries to ignore (the obligatory bass solo) and finishing off with THE Manowar classic of all-time - the immortal and earth-shattering "Battle Hymn" - a true metal classic if there ever was one - and featuring one of Adam's most impressive vocal parts to date.
This album (and especially the second half) is what would define Manowar in years to come - sometimes epic, melodic, very powerfull metal - mainly carried by Eric Adams's vocals (to date being my favourite ever metal shouter) and Demaio's solid bass-work.
Definitely worth the money you pay - and a great introduction to a superb band.
This is Manowar before they got all epic and tr00 on us - it's still there, but there are some great songs that actually lack the overwhelming pretentiousness that would scar their latest albums, and - simply because they didn't try so damn hard to be otherwise - come off as pretty solid and well-written.
Note: I do not have the remastered version. I am going on the original, which has a slightly rock and rollish vibe to it, both in songwriting and in the guitar tone. The album can be pretty much divided into two parts: the first five songs, and the last three.
The first five are pretty straightforward heavy metal songs, that would not be out of place on a "Killing Machine" or a "Breaker". Of these, "Shell Shock" is probably the weakest, due to the generally uninspired chorus. "Manowar" is probably the best - it's pretty typical heavy metal, with some really catchy and well-defined riffs, something that Manowar would not be all that consistent in in the future.
Then, the second half of the album, which is interesting, in that they go for a more epic power metal idea. They start Dark Avenger with the first of many, many spoken parts that they would have. The song itself is very nicely done power metal - probably the best song on here. All the riffs work, and the soloing is tasteful and effective, without any excess wankery that would mark some of their later epic efforts. "William's Tale" is the obligatory bass solo - very nice, as it's the William Tell Overture which of course can do no wrong.
The last song is "Battle Hymn", which also rules quite muchly - another epic metal song, with a well done chorus, and in general well-placed melodies.
The strongest suit of the album is that the songwriting just plain works - there is nothing forced about it, and no silly ideas are thrown in just because they seem like a good idea at the time. It's a very solid album, and well worth getting.