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Bombastic yet lacking - 68%

HoichitheEarless, November 2nd, 2007

I've managed to miss most of what Manowar has been doing in the last few years so when I heard this album was coming out and that it would be a true concept album about the Norse mythology, I got pretty excited. Aside from such great bands like Tyr, Amon Amarth, Manilla Road, etc I couldn't think of a better band to do such an album especially given Manowars track record with such topics in such classics as Into Glory Ride, Hail to England or their epicness in in Kings of Metal, Triumph of Steel, etc. Thus, armed with these such expectations I warded into this album.
If one has read anything in the reviews the sense that their is a lack of power to be found in these songs is absolutely what I found to be the case. Where was Adam's treble shattering falsetto when many, many moments on this album called for him to let loose like in Hail to England? Where where the killer riffs that should have kicked in repeatedly throughout this album but always managed to dissipate into blandness halfway through? And most of all, where was the accompanying awesome solos Manowar is so fraught with in their older works? I didn't even start to expect the drums to be amazing as half-way through it became abundantly clear that Columbus probably didn't break out the steel plated drums for this one.
Compared to any of their great works, Glory, England, Kings, or Triumph, this album is missing pretty much everything about those that made them great. The drumming of Glory, the vocals/solos/riffs of England, the orchestral epicness or Kings or Triumph....all not to be found.
Instead, what I got and actually happened to like, was a huge swaggering sense of bombastic, not epic, glory in the form of many, many awesome spoken word tomes and orchestral selections. Then when the album truly kicked off, in every case, major failure to deliver except in some cases such as "King of Kings'' or "Blood of Odin".
This was a huge shame in my view as most bands as old as Manowar are really putting out some of their best work in recent days, i.e. - Manilla Road, Dio, etc and while what I got was not as huge a change in style as to kill the enjoyment of the album (such as the latest couple albums from Running Wild for example) the musical intensity was very much absent. This absence didn't make me hate the album enough to toss it completely, as the lyrics, spoken word, and orchestral selections are just great by themselves or in mixes, but I can't say that anyone who is not as fond of such things to check this album out if they aren't just a complete fanboy. I mentioned Manilla Road earlier and I absolutely see that kind of spirit absent in "Gods of War" in their playing nowadays and highly recommend their last album, "Gates of Fire" to this album as in that they follow the true Manowar code: that real men play on 10.