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If you are objective, open minded, you will know how to appreciate this peace of art. It's standard Manowar, this time with massive orchestrations. This is totally natural thing since they were the ones who laid foundation for heavy metal's sub-genre called symphonic metal. It began with The Crown And The Ring (Lament Of The Kings), although that song doesn't have electric guitars. But still, it sounds so heavy, 'cause they are heavy metal enough even without distorted guitars. This release has lots of short introduction songs and some instrumental overtures done in classical music style, because of Richard Wagner's influence. If you know something about Manowar, then you noticed that these stories in The Blood Of Odin and Glory Majesty Unity are done in the vein of The Warrior's Prayer from Kings Of Metal album. So, they continued this epic story from 1988, and put it into this concept album, which consists of Norse Mythology, heavy metal, Manowar and their fans. Also, Warriors Of The World had short classical piece Valhalla and longer The March, so symphonic metal tendencies are not strange in Manowar's music.
Joey DeMaio fully unveiled his artistic nature and showed his ability, creativity and talent to make classical music overtures: Overture To The Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors and Overture To Odin, introduction parts: The Ascension and beginning of Sleipnir as well, and epic stories: The Blood Of Odin and Glory Majesty Unity. These songs are the ones which turned this release into a concept album, since they don't have electric guitar, bass guitar and drums, but classical instruments and choir. When you remove these introductions, overtures and stories, instead of 16 songs, them 9 are songs where you can expect standard vocals, drums, bass and electric guitars. Parts where band members are notable in these classical songs are The Ascension, which is introduction for King Of Kings where Eric starts to sing, and Joey is narrator of The Blood Of Odin story. Army Of The Dead Part 1 features Eric, along with orchestrations and choir. Army Of The Dead Part 2 has identical lyrics, and the only difference is that Part 2 has keyboards (with organ effect) intro where Joey kicks serious ass. Some can consider these songs as filler, because if you look few years back, since The Triumph Of Steel, it takes them from 4, 5 to 6 years to release new studio albums. They toured a lot few years back, they had line-up changes, so it's natural that it takes lots of time to make new material, but lack of inspiration can't be ignored too.
Manowar is a band that needs time to release new studio albums, but once they come out, they can't disappoint. It's worth waiting, since they do not release crap garbage every year, but high quality heavy metal material. What really will blow away any serious listener are these killer songs. Eric played really important role here, and did impressive job. After all these years he was still capable to do high-pitched screams in King Of Kings, Loki God Of Fire, Die For Metal, Blood Brothers and in ending of the song Gods Of War. His voice filled these songs with insane amount of power, specially mind-blowing combination with strong chorus in songs Sons Of Odin and Gods Of War, where whole thing is taken to higher level, and with symphonic arrangements these two songs sound massive, epic and orgasmic. Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors received the same blessing, and it has even more epic feel when Joey starts the narration, and when he finishes, Eric starts along with choir which always make me shudder. Eric's intonation in Sleipnir's refrains is of key importance, otherwise song wouldn't sound that great. Karl Logan made excellent guitar solos. Slow, with lots of passion to fit the mood of Blood Brothers power ballad and Hymn Of Immortal Warriors, which sounds like a national anthem. Word "hymn" in the title makes perfect sense.
Semi-furious, but technical solos are in Gods Of War, Odin and Die For Metal, and insanely furious solos full of arpeggios, sweeps and shredding in King Of Kings, with some slower parts, but with guitar rape in Sleipnir, and with use of tremolo to squeeze those notes. In Loki God Of Fire and Sons Of Odin he continued fast kick-ass playing. Odin has nice lead guitar which causes eargasm, and Loki God Of Fire has insane ending soloing along with Eric's singing, so you can't hear well some of his solo parts. It's refreshing to hear something like that, not just solos in the middle of the song without vocals. Although this release is not full of memorable riffs, Loki God Of Fire and Die For Metal have riffs which slay, and enough to leave great impression for the entire release. He placed power chords well in fast songs King Of Kings, Sleipnir, Loki God Of Fire, in mid tempo songs Sons Of Odin, Gods Of War and in slow songs Die For Metal, Blood Brothers and Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors. Joey's bass guitar is not dominant on this release, but he was dedicated to keyboards with organ effect and narrations in some parts of the songs. Scott Columbus could have done some different and more creative beats, instead of constant repeating the same pattern during the songs' durations. Songs still sound excellent, and other members covered this lack.
Good sides of this release:
This is unique symphonic metal masterpiece. Unique because Joey and Karl have custom made equipment, their own Manowar distortion, there's only one Eric Adams and because orchestration here sounds totally different than any other band in heavy metal music did. Manowar proved they can set standards for symphonic metal, after years of classic heavy metal and power metal domination. This is really epic studio album, and word "epic" should be under their copyright hold.
Bad sides of this release:
May turn off lazy asses and narrow minded people who simply don't want to listen carefully and try to appreciate these excellent classical music parts.
Everything. If you listen from beginning to the end, it leaves even bigger impression.