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For twenty-seven years Manowar has unapologetically sent the balls of the whorish mainstream through their eye sockets with the iron boot that is heavy metal. Not one to shrink from the task of diversifying the barbaric slaughter that is their sound with some epic interludes, what you often get is a middle ground between a very melodic and cheesy speed metal and a quasi-symphonic film score with keyboards and narrations blazing away. In spite of being seasoned veterans of their craft and sometimes derided as old timers, they have not relented, as can be heard on this triumphant single.
Although a bit longwinded for a single, I can see the point of a prelude of this magnitude to kick off a full length album that is quite ambitious musically. The featured track that follows the prelude “King of Kings” is classic 80s speed vintage with no apologies to a musically dead mainstream outside of metal’s bounds. Although keyboard heavy throughout, the thunderous rhythm section and pounding guitar give this track an equal dose of adrenaline that is comparable to the blazing fury of such classics as “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” and “Blood of the Kings”.
Things do slow down a bit for a keyboard driven and narrated interlude, but for those who understand Manowar’s history, this is something that has always been present in their music. I hope that the critics who obsess over the interludes here were consistent with older Manowar classics such as “Defender” which sported similar narratives. But afterwards we get an amazing methodical solo display on the part of Karl Logan, who bests a good deal of Ross the Boss’ work with the band.
This is a song that will no doubt satisfy the prolonged desire of the Manowar faithful who have seen a slowing in the band’s output since “The Triumph of Steel”. It is a pretty good indicator of the musically ambitious nature of the full length release “Gods of War”, which is heavily criticized for being too book-on-tape oriented. If you happen across this single in a bargain bin somewhere and you don’t have the full length, it would be worth picking up, but real fans of Manowar get the whole experience on the LP with the volume maxed out.
This single suffers from the same thing as their newer albums, namely stupid, keyboard driven interludes that are supposed to sound 'epic' but instead are completely stupid. Here, the title track suffers for it, with the crappy interlude seen in 'King of Kings'.
The first track, 'The Ascension', is some keyboard driven bullshit with some story about the King of Kings. I realise it's an intro, but it goes on for far too long, and it could've finished before the talking bit (about 40 seconds in). The next track however, is simply awesome, with a fast riff driving it forward, and while the chorus is cheesy it is still good. Around 1:30 you're happily headbanging when it suddenly goes quiet into one of those stupid fucking interludes, which ruins all of the momentum which had been previously built up. After about a minute though, it explodes back into a blazing solo which almost makes up for it, and the track finishes with the chorus. Man, if they had taken out the interlude and replaced it with more soloing, it would be sheer ownage.
So what we have here is an overlong intro and a great song that is partially ruined because of an interlude which takes up a quarter of the song. Fortunately the good aspects of 'King of Kings' make up for it, but I'd rather not have to fast forward through boring interludes.
But seriously, I have always had the nagging feeling Manowar are giving into commercialism. For one, although I have had nothing but love for their new work, it makes me think... why didn't release Sons of Odin, King of Kings, and The Dawn of Battle singles with Warriors of the World? To keep up with the theme, I would've loved it if they took out the patriotic mumbo jumbo from WotW and put these songs in. Seriously. This single would've made a kickass opener for WotW.
It functions as 1 song, in that The Ascension is more of an intro. It tells the tale, of, well, a man's ascension to the throne of King of Kings, and his newfound power from the gods, and how he used that power. The song, in itself, is one of my favorite Manowar songs. It's really great. As a single, this thing owns. The keyboards are used QUITE well, and Manowar have FINALLY found a good production after Kings of Metal. Their pre-Kings of Metal was a bit messy, and their 1990's albums were too clean. Here, as with Warriors of the World, they hit the jackpot.
Again, I don't know why they didn't just put these songs in Warriors of the World, even IF they had to delay the release for ANOTHER 2 or so years. At least they wouldn't have had to put shit in that album like An American Trilogy and Fight For Freedom.
However, back to the single. It's great. I cannot find a single fault with it, aside from its short length. It's just great. Get it, some way. Download it, Itune it, or get Hell on Earth IV. Just get it. It's really great. Lots of keyboards, nice mid-fast speed, great lyrics about being the King of Kings.
A rarity these days.. a new Manowar track, as part of the package with their latest DVD, Hell on Earth 4.
Manowar have released 4 studio albums since Kings Of Metal, that amounts to 19 years and four albums. So any new song is a big deal.
The first track, the Ascension, is more of an intro, lots of keyboards, chords, spoken bits.. not a bad track but you wonder why... its again not strictly a metal track as no guitar or drum is to be seen. But half of Manowar's tracks in these past 19 years have been like this. Im sure they have made less than 30 metal tracks in this time.
King Of Kings is definitely metal. Another powerful Manowar track here.. very fast and Eric is in fine form. There is some reprieve in the middle with a slower bit like the one in Battle Hymns, but then it rattles your bones again and takes off. This is typical Manowar, I really cant describe it any other way. Fast but not as fast as Wheels Of Fire. Catchy chorus, as always from these guys.
They write fantastic music. Its just such a pity that they, particularly Joey, must act like such wankers with their 'war on everything thats not metal/posers'. They themselves are posers. However, take away anything visual, and Manowar are great lyrics and you have potentially the finest songwriters in metal. They are talented and I am hugely looking forward to their new album, hopefully sometime before 2010.