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A word to the wise: Even good bands can pump out really lame material sometimes. Just because you like a band does not mean you are obligated to never criticize them. And just because you wear spandex, sing about fire and steel and have long blonde hair…it doesn’t mean you’re really better than anybody else playing Heavy Metal music. Yeah. Yeah, that about sums up Kings of Metal.
I mean…I like Manowar, and I don’t even hate this album; not really. But I just can’t bring myself to give this a higher score. How can you possibly fuck something like this up? It should be easy – write a bunch of cheesy, fast songs, some heavy riffs and some slower anthems. And, you know, do not put in anything like obnoxious bass solos, pretentious orchestral ballads and even songs that have no music at all and just deep-voiced narration. That would just be stupid, but then, that’s exactly what they did. I guess it’s supposed to be part of their theatrical nature or something, but I don’t know and I don’t care. It is poor writing, and no amount of lovable attitude and charisma can save that.
I just never understand why Manowar assumes anyone wants to hear shit like this. A bass solo? And one that’s based off of a classical piece? The pointlessness just…jumps off the record and hits me in the face. And the narration piece “The Warrior’s Prayer”…why? Why do we need to hear this? Who ever looked at an album like Sign of the Hammer and said to the band “hey, that wasn’t bad, but your next album needs a four minute interlude with no guitars, just narration that nobody will really care about. That will make sure that nobody enjoys it too much.” Bullshit! Well, maybe the rest of the songs are just so good that they would justify such random, whimsical fucking around. Maybe they’re just so damned cool that I will be forced to reiterate my opinion on this piece of work and analyze it from a more open-minded point of view. Maybe they’ll just blow my fucking mind out of the water. So, how are they?
…it’s about half and half. For one, we do get some really good songs like “Wheels of Fire,” “Heart of Steel” and “Hail and Kill,” three all-time Manowar classics. “Heart of Steel” in particular is just lovely, a stirring, manly anthem of warrior-like proportions with a delicate piano backdrop and some truly great, charismatic vocals from Eric Adams, who completely steals the show here. Great, great song. And “Hail and Kill” and “Wheels of Fire” are just overflowing with cheese, manifestos of metallic might indeed. The title track is okay, catchy enough, and “Blood of the Kings” is seven minutes of shredding Virgin Steele-esque guitar acrobatics and wailing that, yeah, I have to admit is cool. But we also get songs like the entirely forgettable “Kingdom Come” (might be good if it was longer and had a better chorus…), the wussy waste of time “The Crown and the Ring” and the nadir of entertainment itself, “Pleasure Slave.” Yes, this song was apparently not released on the original press of the album, but was added at a later date because apparently the band decided this album didn’t have enough suck in it already, and what do you know? It sucks. The riffs are half assed, none of them seem to go together, the vocals are annoyingly unmemorable and the sound effects aren’t even that funny or anything. It just completely sucks, and I don’t see why anyone would want to listen to it.
In fact, you know what this is? I don’t know, maybe I’m completely off on this, but I just get the impression that Manowar just recorded a bunch of stuff they thought was cool or funny, without actually tying it together into a cohesive album. They just felt like screwing around in the studio and then decided that their fans would like a cobble of random ass shit that they could have just as easily relegated to EP status, or even just kept in the studio, never to see the light of day. It’s just so half-cocked, all of it. They could have at least given us a concept album or integrated the oddities better into the songs. And they could have at least written better songs in general.
And one more thing; what the hell is up with the production? It’s tinny, it’s weak, it sounds like it was recorded in a goddamn cardboard box. The guitar tone is a sniveling waste of energy, the drums sound like the rat-tat-tat of a pencil on a desk and nothing jumps out at me at all; it’s all kind of condensed into this weak streamline of dullness. You would think a band man enough to call themselves the Kings of Metal would get a heavier production job. Lame.
This album isn’t bad, but it’s just got so many things desperately trying to make it uncool that it’s really hard to enjoy. I understand the band isn’t taking themselves all that seriously, but there’s a difference between comically goofy, zany stuff and plain old half-assed crap. Half the songs suck, the production is lame and there’s no flow between tracks at all. Seriously, I listen to music to, uh, HEAR THE MUSIC, and this album puts the stop on the metal too much for my taste, considering how much the band wants us to know how metal they are. The good songs are good enough to warrant listening to this album, but you’ll probably have your finger on the skip button a lot of the time. I do not hate Kings of Metal, but really, guys? Really?
That about sums up my reaction to this album.