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After the relatively tame "Fighting The World", this was a welcome blast of renewed power and fury from the Kings of Metal, and the title says it all. In fact, as the title of this review implies, for me this was the album where they really started hitting their stride and getting into the groove that characterizes their current sound and style. Those who don't like it, well, they're fucking poseurs. There, I said it, get over it.
There is very little to not like on this album, the only song I really don't care for being "Pleasure Slave". I know Manowar are not to be taken 100% seriously, but this song is just plain silly. And I don't care for a song that says "WOMAN, BE MY SLAVE!" in this context, speaking as somebody who loves women and is at the same time not the most PC guy around, contrary to what you may think here. Other than this, let 'er rip!
The production is excellent, but a little too trebly for my taste; a little extra bottom end would've made this positively devastating and truly speaker-shattering. The drums boom and crack they way they ought to (MINUS triggers!), the guitars are clear and crispy-crunchy, the bass rattles your sternum anyway, and Eric Adams is right in front leading the charge as only he can with his inimitable vocal stylings. Virtually no-one can match his conviction, power, range, and sense of style and class (not to mention his diction) in the American scene, such as it is these days especially. Yeah, I know, RJD, but even he is losing it due to age these days. Sad but true.
"Wheels Of Fire" kicks things off in high gear (pun intended) with a speedy paean to driving entirely too damn fast and loving every second of it. Excellent solo here from Ross The Boss, too. "Kings Of Metal" spells it out loud and clear for the unbelievers: "Other bands play--MANOWAR KILLS!!!" Need we say more? Of course, and this is where a damn fine ballad with balls like Kongzilla rears its head, the beautiful "Heart Of Steel", one of my personal theme songs in life. A ballad with this level of balls is a truly rare thing, so enjoy it when it does come around.
Then comes the inevitable bass solo, and again, disbelievers and haters can get the fuck over the fact that Joey DeMaio is one of the baddest bassists in America if not the baddest period. Anybody who can take "Flight of the Bumblebee", one of the most technically demanding violin pieces ever written (by composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), and shred it at full tempo balls out with massive amounts of aggression and passion on the bass is a god, in my book. The walls of wild and crazed noise he unleashes between verses of this tune are terrfiying!
"The Crown and the Ring (Lament of the Kings)" gives me chills to listen to with its male choir and Eric going on about how this will be his last battle, commending his life to the All Father. Fantastic!
"Kingdom Come" is one of Manowar's trademark "follow your dreams" songs, and it has the usual vastly uplifting effect--who says heavy metal is all negative and depressing and evil? "Hail And Kill", well, you gotta scream along with that huge chorus! Ownage personified on that part alone.
And hey...I LIKE "The Warrior's Prayer", it sets up the bombastic and classic ending cut, "Blood Of The Kings" perfectly. OK, so the ending declaration of "THEY...WERE THE METAL KINGS!!!" is kinda silly, but it fits the whole Manowar over the top image, so why the hell not? "Blood Of The Kings" is the perfect and ultimate Manowar album ender to end them all, even over "Black Wind, Fire, And Steel", with its devastating power and sense of epic grandeur. Do I love this album? Does Joey DeMaio have a big ego? Of course on both counts! This belongs in the collection of any headbanger worthy of the ti