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Manowar. Yeah, loin cloths, swords and metal. I love a lot of Manowar's music, but sometimes the image is just funny. When I first heard Manowar, I thought it was just a big joke. Oh well, enough about the image... onto "Louder Than Hell".
The album kicks off strong, with "Return of the Warlord". This is a great track, with a very simple hard rock oriented riff. There are some awesome pounding drums, they just remind me of high speed chases for some reason, just pounding and chugging along. The vocals here are amazing, but Eric Adams always puts on a good show. The bass is pretty good; not as pronounced as before, but some really cool ideas are put to music.
"Brothers of Metal, Pt. 1" is next, and man, is this a catchy song. The hard rock style riff starts it off, with some more excellent vocal work. A very epic, apocalyptic feeling is used with the drums... (drums of doom anyone?). That chorus is awesome! So catchy. But anyways, the guitar riffing isn't too great, but the power chord all seem to be in the right places. The bass work on this song is awesome. There are some higher bass notes that roll along, especially on the chorus. There is some really cool trem picking and tapping on the solo, very nicely done. This track is just so damn catchy!
Next up, "The Gods Made Heavy Metal". Once again, catchy as hell. The riff is really cool on the opening, and the chugging drums are back. The vocals are great on this track as well. This is another driving, pounding, anthemic song, that is just as catchy as "Brothers of Metal", if not so, then more.
"Courage". Man, I just can't really listen to this one. A ballad, I guess, but not a great one. The vocals are good, though a little too drawn out and almost whiney. The music is pretty simple, just some orchestra samples in the back giving an epic feel, with piano overtop. It kicks in with a rather simple drum beat and chord progression. There is actually a pretty cool solo mixed in there, but it's not good enough to want to listen to the song. The bass work is pretty good, but once again, not enough so to make this a repeated listen.
After the ballad, we have a pretty solid track "Number 1". By now the album starts to get a little samey, but if you take it track by track, this song is very good on it's own. A really cool riff and the pounding drums again. Eric Adams sounds fine once again, and the bass plods along with some nice fills. A very catchy chorus, but the vocals just get a little much, almost too whiney for such a powerful voice. A rather lackluster solo thrown in the middle, it's just not very exciting. This song is good, but it's not as good as the first three tracks.
"Outlaw" speeds things up, almost to speed metal levels. The drums almost sound like something Overkill would do. The guitar is pretty fast, and the bass is pretty non-existant. The vocals are excellent. A little too high pitched towards the end though. There is a nice segment in the middle where there are some church bells and slower drums, but then it picks back up, and has a really cool tapping style solo.
"King" starts off a lot like "Courage". Just really ballady (is that a word? you know what I mean). I don't really think Manowar's strong point is ballads, maybe they shouldn't write soft songs anymore. Right before I get ready to hit the track skip button, a nice 80's style guitar riff comes crashing in. Very nice! The pounding drums, the palm muting guitars, the rolling bass, the excellent vocals. It's all there. And it keeps going until the solo. Then it goes again. A good track, but a little samey once you get into the main portion of the song.
"Today is a Good Day to Die" is next. It starts off very epic sounding, taking nearly four minutes for a little, slow solo to kick in. It slows down into a piece with piano and orchestra again. But then it kicks in with some heavier riffs and drums. Then it's over. I guess some vocals wouldn't hurt, but as far as an epic sounding interlude (that last's nearly ten minutes) it's pretty good. Maybe a little too drawn out.
After such a slow epic track, it's nice Manowar picked things up with "My Spirit Lives On". This is bascially sting of the bumblebee part II, in my opinion. It's just two minutes of fast finger tapping and feedback. It's gets a little too high pitched and keeps climbing... a little overdone I believe. But it still picks up the speed...
"The Power" is the closer, and it starts off in an excellent fashion. This track definitely adds more depth into this album, it's just too bad they waited until the last track to change some things up. The drums still have that driving sound, the guitar is pretty cool, with some speed metal riffs and some really cool chord choices on the slower parts. The vocals are excellent. This track definitely shows that Manowar sounds much better when the tempo is faster. Once again a cool solo is played, then speed is picked back up to finish it off. Definitely a great way to finish off the album!
As with any other Manowar album, I find the lyrics largely amusing. I just can't take the lyrics seriously, especially on "The Gods Made Heavy Metal" and "Brothers of Metal". With lines like:
"The Gods made heavy metal / and saw that it was good / they said to play it louder than hell / we promised that we would" and "Our heart are filled with metal / and masters we have none / and will die for metal / metals heals, my son"
how can you go wrong? It just seems to me that singing about metal is a little cliche and humorous. Whether it's supposed to be a joke or not doesn't really matter. The music is expertly played. The songwriting is definitely a hit, especially considering the catchiness of most of the tracks. The vocals are amazing, except for the whiney parts on the ballads.
This is definitely a great album. Sure there are parts that aren't the best, but overall this is a good album. Seems to be more hard rock oriented than their previous efforts, but the roots of metal are still there. A good album by a great band! Manowar fans better already own this (since you can get it for less than $5). I would recommend this album to fans of traditional heavy metal, as well as power metal fans! Every metal head should own this album, if not for the music, then for the humor.