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Erh...intitially I found this album quite strange to listen too - even though I never considered it to be "bad" - it had an entirely different, more commercial feel to it than previous efforts - probably due to a lighter production coupled with the opening two "party-rockers".
Not to say that the production is "bad" - not at all actually - but it just is less heavy and more rock & roll orientated than the first four albums - this album can more or less be viewed as a "breaking" album for Manowar.
Even though the first two tracks "Fighting The World" and "Blow Your Speakers" are solid party rock & roll songs - I can't say that I was too impressed with them - at least not on a studio recording - they gain a lot in a live environment - that's for sure. "Carry On" also isn't exactly the strongest Manowar tune ever (even though I must admit to liking it quite a bit) with it's "easy on the ears" chorus - and "Violence & Bloodshed", although not bad, certainly isn't the best "up-tempo" song they ever recorded.
So to say - the first half of the album is quite ordinary - run of the mill metal - especially for a band like Manowar - who have proven in the past that they could do so much better. The album however - is completely redeemd by it's second half - starting out with the excellent "Defender" - an atmospheric, moody (and slow) tune on which Eric Adam's excells (it also features the haunting voice of Orson Welles once again) - up comes a small, overlookable intro ("Drums Of Doom") leading into the catchy "Holy Wars" (again - Adams steals the show in this one), unto another (slightly unnecesary) "interlude" ("Master Of Revenge") and into the album's highlight - the speed killer "Black Wind Fire And Steel" - another one of those timeless Manowar classics.
Not a bad release overall - but not matching up with any other album in the Manowar catalogue either - it's worth getting for Adam's voice alone though - and certainly is better than a lot of other rubbish out there...but not essential - unless of course you are a Manowar fan.