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The least pretentious Manowar album - 76%

UltraBoris, August 24th, 2002

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.