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A mixed bag of sorts... - 73%

The_Ghoul, December 10th, 2007

I wanted to love this album. I honestly did. I love Manowar, and I love the epic sound they've pioneered. I love everything this album stands for -- steel, hate, war, honor, glory, pride, etc... I even love the absolutely cheesy and gay album cover. I love the logo, I love the lyrics, I love all that shit. But I can't bring myself to love this album. I loved Hail to England and almost every album after that with a few hiccups on the way.

But I do not like this album. It's mediocre in the worst way. It's not horrible by any stretch of the imagination, it's just relentlessly boring. The epic songs are long and rambling, and are full of repetition and some really boring riffs that have no place on a Manowar CD. This, like its stillborn predecessor, is what Manowar were like before they really found their sound.

It is apparent that Manowar wanted this CD to be epic. The problem is songs like Gloves of Metal and Warlord, which are out of place on this CD. Gloves of Metal is slow indeed, but slow=/=epic. Manowar haven't learned that yet. Warlord is a mid-fast paced rocker with stupid lyrics (though that's part of Manowar's charm) and a really stupid riff that manages to be completely unmemorable. Basically, it's a song that I always skip whenever they perform live.

The production doesn't help either. Even Joey DeMaio's supposed "flawless" production on the silver version is muted and lame, in the literal sense of the word, as in impotent. It completely neuters the CD, and robs it of any testosterone-laden charm it might've had. The guitars manage to be completely overpowered by the drums, and the bass is present only as an incoherent rumbling.

However, the core issue I have with this CD is that it is completely unmemorable. No amount of shit production can obscure the quality of the songwriting, and it shines through here that Manowar didn't know how to write memorable epics. Songs like Gates of Valhalla, March for Revenge and Revelation (death's Angel) clearly have some interesting riffs (usually at the beginning), but instead of progressing from those riffs into something grander and greater, they repeat the riff ad nauseum until you're sick of it. Seriously, Gates of Valhalla is 2 or 3 riffs. WTF, Manowar? I listen to you guys for riffs. Endless riffs. The orchestra of Kings of Metal and their latest two albums is fun, and complements their music greatly, but in the end it's the guitars that make Manowar. The guitars and the singing. It would be a lie to say that the riffs are boring, because a lot of them aren't. A lot of them are quite interesting. It's just that there is a disturbing LACK of riffs here. It's the repetition that bores me, the way they drive the good riffs and the bad riffs into the cold, cold, ground.

However, there must be a special mention for the song Hatred. I dunno what it is, but I see no value in that song. It seems the four cylinders of Manowar misfired on that song, because it goes from boring riff to boring riff to boring riff. Manowar are trying to be "evil" with that song, and it's an embarrassingly pathetic failure. One aspect that Manowar carried from their first album is that their slow songs sound like unmemorable Black Sabbath ripoffs, and to some extent on this album, that is the case. It is especially the case with Hatred. It is not hard to believe Joey DeMaio was a roadie for Black Sabbath, because this song sounds like a really boring "homage" to Black Sabbath.

I am filled with immense frustration when I listen to this album, because MANOWAR, YOU ARE NOT EVIL, YOU ARE NOT BLACK SABBATH, YOU ARE NOT "EDGY", AND FIRST AND FOREMOST, YOU ARE NOT "HEROES" WHO DIE FOR METAL. YOU ARE A HEAVY METAL BAND. THAT'S ALL.

However, I don't hate the CD. It's not a bad album, despite what my comments may lead you to believe. However, it suffers from the same disease that its predecessor, Battle Hymns, suffered from, which is horrid production and boring songs. I would get it if you are a Manowar fan and want to complete your collection, but if you're new to Manowar, I'd get Kings of Metal first, that CD defines Manowar and is their best.