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2007. A crisis has taken the metal world by storm. The very foundation, the core, the soul of metal is at stake. Metal philosophy is at a crossroads, all questions unimportant when faced with the most fundamental of all: What is Truth?
In Metal existence, this Truth is synonymous with Metal, so the question must be asked: What is Metal?
Leaving the ultimate resolution of the Great Question to higher planes, we take a practical approach: what defines Metal? what should Metal always have?
That so undefinable quality, Heaviness?
Metaldom:Hear,hear! (Loud clapping and cheering)
Long orchestral and spoken word intros/outros/interludes?
"Long orchestral and spoken word intros/outros/interludes?" The Metal Gods fill their cups of Wrath, ready to pour them unto the heads of the unholy blasphemers. The Well of Infinite Metal Wisdom is consulted. Metaldom is astounded by the revelation of the identities of the perpetrators of such profanity.
We're not kidding here folks. Manowar has actually released an album of instrumental orchestration sounds/spoken word bullshit peppered with some metal here and there. Ok, to be fair,I've estimated the offending material at 44% of the total runtime. That's 32 nonmetal minutes in a 73 minute disc. That's not to say the symphonics stop when the guitars come in - they don't, but we have heard this before in songs like "Achilles:Agony and Ecstasy", the midsection of "Outlaw","Call to Arms", and "Dawn of Battle", outstanding songs by modern Manowar. The symphonic/spoken word elements are nothing new ("Grandfather, tell me a story"), but previous compositions were successful because each element enhanced the whole, and the foundation and focus remained metal. In Gods of War, it seems Manowar forgot what it is they are supposed to BE while they were focusing on what they were trying to DO. The symphonic/spoken word elements so far dominate this album, while the metal material is so subpar, the result is like a car crash where all the people survived - as paraplegics. A bad, bad mistake was made when writing this album: assuming that more symphonics would make it "epic". For the life of me, I can't figure out what the thought process for this album was.
I am baffled at hearing this album described as "epic", at least at the term being used in a positive connotation.
1. Of, constituting, having to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic
2. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size
3. Heroic and impressive in quality
Aside from lyrical content (the story, of course, was not created by Manowar by any means), there is nothing rightly "epic" about this album. This album is the sound of a band getting carried away by the incidental components of the music, like a baker making a half-inch-thick cake with an inch of frosting on top. True, Manowar have surpassed themselves in symphonic/spoken word wankery, but epic? "Surpassing the ordinary"? "Impressive in quality"? No.
The other huge problem with this album is that most of the material is UTTERLY uninteresting (and here we speak exclusively of the METAL material, the other stuff got old the first time around), the exception being the first metal song "King of Kings" (which we already heard in the Sons of Odin ep), and even this is marred by (I know, flogging a dead horse) a spoken word/symphonic passage. The next metal track is "Sleipnir", which starts with (I know, flogging a horse carcass) a minute long spoken word intro. The song itself is ok, with a nice double bass pace and a nice solo, but the song is SO subdued. I mean, my toaster has gotten more emotion out of me. "Loki, God of Fire" is lukewarm water, a subpar rock song with a metal injection. The solo is nicely played, but as soulless as a stone gargoyle. This song would have been ok (maybe) in 1984, but in 2007 this doesn't fly.
Next, it's unbelievable that the same band that graced us with "Heart of Steel" delivers the sewage that is the attempt at a ballad "Blood Brothers". Horrid. And is it me or is Eric Adams sounding tired? The next song with guitars, two intros later ( I know, flogging horse bones), is "Sons of Odin". If you had told Joey DeMaio back in 1988 he'd be playing stuff as dumb as the first two minutes of this song he would have broken your head with his bass. The "choir" chorus at 3:43 is just funny, and the song ends with more than a minute of (I know, flogging horse dust), yes, spoken word/symphonics.
"Gods of War" starts out pompously with pounding sounds and a completely unnecessary "choir" chorus, but gets better after half a minute. Here, the symphonics actually work, evocating the epic feeling Manowar sought with this album. Unfortunately, the "choir" being the main focus of the chorus brings the song level down. Why Eric Adams chose to be counterpoint to the choir instead of the other way around is beyond me, but it doesn't work. The song ends in the trademark Manowar feedback/screams/drums way, which is just RIDICULOUS. It's like Will Smith being chosen as Pope: what is it we're trying to do here again? "Odin" is a clunker. "Hymn of the Immortal Warriors" starts out with softly sung vocals and (I know, flogging horse fossils, but you know what? the symphonic/spoken word shit just got old, FAST) symphonics. Organ sounds, spoken words, choir, Manowar go all out. I have to respect the doomy feel of the song two minutes in, if they had retained that sound the song would have worked. Instead they slather cheese all over it less than a minute later with the choir and a solo that reminded me of a glam band. Another song that won't be appearing in your personal "Best of Manowar" list. Some might like the "bonus" track, "Die for metal", but to me it sounds like a Kiss cover with the exception of the lyrics.
This album is an abortion. Instead of epic, elevated, and godly we have pompous, pretentious and boring. For the good of metal, somebody cut Manowar's access to keyboards.
I hereby proclaim the Kings... exiled.