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The kings of metal released another album, this time we get a live rendition of songs of (almost) every album they've put out so far, and on the second disc an extensive list of songs from their latest album, Gods of war (no surprises this album is called Gods of war live, as it is a recording of one of their tour dates for the same album). This album was recorded in NÃ¼rnberg, Germany (mentioned only at the end of Black wind, fire and steel).
First, the overall sound and quality. Manowar/Joey deMaio and his sound crew really know how to put out the best sound they can get, no doubt about that: every instrument is clearly audible and every note can be heard. Now, the quality of playing is another thing: even though we all know Eric Adams is one of the, if not THE greatest metal singer of all time, he's having either some troubles with his glorious vocal cords or he doesn't know how to use all the power from the sound system or something like that, because he uses the first three songs messing around with his voice, going from low and almost grunting to some of his trademark high pitched screams before singing the songs like he should. After that, the quality of the music overall improves a lot and we get Manowar at their finest, performing some classic and thought to never-return-again-in-live shows-songs, such as Gloves of metal, Each dawn I die, Mountains and many other classic Manowar songs, screaming to be played live at least once.
This gets me to the song selection. As I said above, we almost couldn't get any better, as every album is represented here, with a large section (almost the entire second disc) from their latest album. Having chosen songs from their oldest albums (Ross the Boss-era), it almost forces DeMaio dusting all his basses off and preparing them for some serious bass shredding, which can be heard in, for instance, the magnificent Mountains, as well as the renewed rendition of William Tell's march, as heard in Son of William's tale.
Karl Logan and Scott Columbus shine here too, with Logan proving in many songs why he is a member of Manowar for over 13 years: he shreds like a maniac on songs like The oath and The gods made heavy metal, but puts down some soothing guitar work, like in the aforementioned Mountains. Of course his playing is far from flawless, but it makes it all the more real and shows his skills even better (better a bit flawed but played with emotion than Yngwie-esque shredding played with perfection, but without any balls at all).
Third, the audience and the communication with them. Ouch, they seriously fail in this part. I don't know whether this was cut out of the final mix or Adams nor DeMaio didn't communicate with their really energetic and enthousiastic audience at all, but it's not here. I really hope it was cut out, because Manowar is known for their very strong fanbase and the communication with them (I read in the booklet of the silver edition of Hail to England that their manager at the time met with their fans and asked them which songs the bands should play at the next concert, and they did). Too bad it's just not here. Only Joey plays with the crowd in his bass solo, but it's too short to save the rest of the album (nice solo, by the way; I've always been ambiguous about DeMaio's solo's: some of them are amazing, others are utter crap). The audience, by the way, is really out there and can be heard singing along many times, Eric Adams gives them a lot of room to fill in his lines, which they do with passion (and probably with their fists in the air).
The second disc. This is where we are treated (yes, treated) to material from the Gods of war-album, their not so good latest album. These songs played live is quite another story: they really shine here! The overall atmosphere of the selection of these songs is really dark and brooding and you almost feel the different emotions, told by the narrator. I sometimes got shivers and goosebumps, and I guess the fans did too. The 'bonus track', Die for metal, was already given to us on disc 1.
Overall this is almost a prime example of how a live album should sound. I say 'almost', because there are several flaws, the biggest of them Eric Adam's vocal acobatics in the first three songs and in some moments later on, but a bigger issue than that is the lack of communication with the crowd.
On the other hand: the song selection is brilliant, giving the fans at least 1 song from every album, as well as the excellent selection and rendition of songs from the Gods of war-album. I'd say it's a must buy, not only for the fans but for every metal fan in general.
However, if you want a full overview of what Manowar are capable of pulling off live, I suggest the DVD The day the Earth shook - The absolute power, which is a bit better IMHO.