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Different? Yes. Better? Hell Naw! - 70%

DarkAvenger77, March 8th, 2012

Battle Hymns was Manowar's first studio album released in 1982. This was the remake that came out late last year under the title 'Battle Hymns MMXI'. Being the Manowar fan that I am, even I have to admit that their music production has been heading south lately. Its not because they are getting old, but simply because it feels like they are not trying like they used to anymore. The creative juices seemed to dry up as for the past 20 years and the time gaps between each cd release have been long, averaging 1 new album every 4-5 years. Production has been slow and rather than releasing a new studio album to offer something fresh, they decide to remake their first one.

Generally remakes are not nearly as good as the original. Battle Hymns MMXI is no exception. The riffs of this album have been tuned down an entire octave and it sounds a lot more rough than its predecessor. The deeper instruments match Eric's deeper vocals as he is now in his mid-50s and no longer in his 20s. I do not care what anyone says, but I believe that his voice has been aging quite gracefully. He can still hold those long and wicked high-note screams like he used to, which is good. I suppose its all about preference whether you enjoy the deeper and grungier tone they have taken with this remake, however I still think the up-beat and energetic hard rock style of the original is superior.

I started off listening to the tracks in order. I started with Death Tone and made my way to Battle Hymn. Right off the bat it certainly sounds heavier than before. The main problem is most the songs sound a tad off-key from the original and some of the riffs (like in Death Tone) have been changed. I do not like this, mainly in Shell Shock. It sounds too off from the original cd almost to where the guitarist is drifting from what the song is and doing something else totally unrelated to Manowar. Such as the solos, they are all changed. This makes sense since the guitarist is Karl Logan and Not Ross the Boss. Its just,Ross had some skill and some soul in his playing. You can really tell he put some thought into his solos. Karl, on the other hand, is just mindless shredding. Not that its a bad thing, it just sounds only a fraction as good.

The only track on this cd that I found to come close to being on par with the original would be Dark Avenger. Since Orson Welles passed away 1985, Manowar had to get someone else to re-do the narration for the song, that being Christopher Lee, and I must say his dreaded and powerful voice really does the job for this remake. I still love the original, but this version of the song was even darker-toned and really gave the atmosphere of an unfairly treated soul and his journey to becoming the Dark Avenger.....then Karl Logan came in and ruined it with his mindless shredding at the end, but I digress.

Overall, not a bad remake, just not a very good one. Muddier, deeper, and heavier than before. More heavy metal and less hard rock-sounding as one would say. What this band needs to do is rather than playing their old music with this new style, they should write new music using their old style. Come on, bring back the magic of 'Kings of Metal', 'Triumph of Steel', and 'Hail to England'. No one wants any more 'Gods of War'. Their recent ep, 'Thunder in the Sky', was a step in the right direction, now they just need a new album!