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Despite being constantly regarded as a classic, I really can't understand why “Hail to England” is so loved. It is a good album, but far from a masterpiece. There are some good songs to be found here and the record is pretty consistent, featuring some nice short songs, all of them catchy and heavy, a bass solo and a relatively long epic song.
However, the big problem of the record is its production. The mix is incredibly bad, highlighting the bass, with the guitar being almost inaudible at times. There are tons of good guitar riffs, but, again, we can't hear them well in the majority of the times, which is obviously bad. Have I already mentioned that the bass is too high in the mix? Yes, I think so... Don't get me wrong, I love the bass guitar, I love bands that don't bury their bassists, but on this album, it doesn't work at all. I can imagine how better this album would be if the guitars were more audible. Jesus.
Anyways, the vocals are outstanding as usual, Eric Adams is a brilliant singer, great great performance. He also shows some versatility, as he can sing melodically throughout the record but he can also sound very aggressive at times, with his amazing high-pitched screams and shrieks. The drumming is very simple and mechanical, Scott Columbus uses the “kick-snare-kick-snare” pattern too many times, which can annoy you. Great drum intro on “Kill with Power” though.
As for the songwriting, all the shorter songs follow similar structures, but they are all quite competent and effective. They are all, as I've already mentioned, extremely catchy and powerful. The album begins with “Blood Enemies” which probably carries the best riff of the record.
“Each Dawn I Die” is pretty similar, with a fantastic chorus sung by an inspired Adams. “Kill with Power” is a personal favourite, great drum intro leading us to a crushing main riff. Again, Eric Adams is amazing on this song. The fourth tune is the title track, carrying another great chorus (have I already mentioned that Manowar knows how to write really addictive choruses?).
The second half of the record begins with “Army of the Immortals”, another catchy little song but with a more elaborated structure.
“Black Arrows” is the track number six, the obligatory bass solo, which also contains a really tr00 metal spoken intro (“Let each note I now play be a black arrow of death sent straight to the heart to all those who play false metal!!”). Yeah, the Manowar spirit!
Finally we reach the last tune, the epic “Bridge of Death”, which contains pure black metal poetry: “Lucifer is King, praise Satan!”, see where Gorgoroth and all those satanic metal bands got their inspiration? That's right, Manowar is that influential! Anyway, the first part of the song is pretty heavy, then there is a nice breakdown and another heavy segment closes the song. This is no “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or “The Power of Thy Sword”, but still a decent and competent closer. Probably, for the afore-mentioned reasons, Satan's favourite Manowar song, so that's something.
So, all in all, a decent album, catchy and straight-forward. It also is pretty short and the whole listening experience is better because of that. Also, the album sounds better as a whole than individually. This piece would sound amazingly well with a better production and mix (and, must I add, with better drumming too?), “Hail to England” had potential indeed, but, meh, in the end it is just a competent catchy record.
If you need an introduction to this band try this, since this album is also pretty acessible.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Kill with Power”.