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I bought this release a while back, and was expecting something, well, louder than hell. I was expecting something that was outrageous, ultra-cheesy, ultra-ManOwaR, and just all-out. I was gravely disappointed. What I got was a rather average heavy metal album, and by ManOwaR's standards, a really poor album. The way I see it, there are 3 basic flaws with this album that prevent it from being good. I'll list them from least important to most important:
Songwriting: Really horrible. The songs are really uninspiring, and many of their songs on this album are just unmemorable, like "The Power", "The Gods Made Heavy Metal", and "King". The riffs here aren't nearly as heavy or as amazing as they were on such classics as Sign of the Hammer, Kings of Metal, or Triumph of Steel. The songs aren't anywhere near as epic, either, as the aforementioned releases, and overall fail. While there are 3 good (not great) but good songs (Brothers of Metal, pt 2; Courage; and Outlaw), the rest are really subpar, and even have horrid songs like Return of the Warlord and Number 1 that are so bad I can't even listen to them. Also, in addition to having really poor riffs in those songs, the traditionally epic, cheesy, but overall excellent lyrics ManOwaR are known for are just not there; on those songs the lyrics are unlistenable. However, those songs have other flaws, too, like their performance.
Performance: Really, really, simple. Unlike his performance on Kings of Metal, or Rhino's bone crushing performance on Triumph of Steel, Scott Columbus does a really lackluster drum performance here. It's always the same beats, no variation, no nothing, no sparkle, and nothing memorable here. Joey DeMaio has a similar plague; the bass here is really not what Manowar's bass is known for, it's more of a simple, subdued rock bass as opposed to his usual killer guitar-like bass performance. Karl Logan, while having some good solos, doesn't really deliver here. His performance, like the rest of the band, is totally without frills, and seems to be lacking any sort of inspiration. Even Eric Adams' vocals suck here, for the most parts. Gone are the dazzling falsettos and air horn like screams of the past; for most of the release it's Eric Adams talking, not Eric Adams singing. I didn't pay to hear him talk. The typically jaw dropping and dramatic performances he's known for are just absent here. Next flaw:
Production: Here the production is very, very, clean. Too clean. There is no echo, no reverb, no nothing. The drums are flat and listless. The guitars are flat and listless, plus being a.) WAY too mixed down, and b.) not enough tracks present. Eric Adams' voice is flat and listless. The bass is flat and listless. Hell, they should've named this "Flatter Than Hell." That would've been more accurate, as this is anything BUT loud; it's more flat, clean, and complacent. The production here, unlike the dirty and dramatic production of Kings of Metal, or the heavy as fuck production on Triumph Of Steel, is unmemorable and mixed wrong. Hell, the rating on this album would've been raised about 10 points if the production was more sparkly and less flat.
Hence, you can tell the basic flaw with this album: It is mediocre and unmemorable. There are 3 good songs, which I have already mentioned. There are 3 unmememorable songs, which I have also already mentioned. And there are 2 horrid songs. The other two songs are pointless. Today is a Good Day To Die is just too drawn out, and My Spirit Lives on is a pointless guitar solo. The problem that prevents songs like Brothers of Metal and Courage from being totally awesome is that the guitars are mixed too low. I want the guitars to be up front and, well, louder than hell in those anthemic songs; here it's listless and flaccid. Outlaw is really the only great, relatively unflawed songs. If they made all their songs that great, put more choirs and WAY more guitars in Brothers of Metal and Courage, we'd have a GREAT release. Another problem is King. It begins as if it's gonna be an epic song about kings and heroes and regicide. Instead, we have a lame rockish song. BAIT AND SWITCH! Not good at all. Plus on that song, the drumming's even WORSE than it was on the rest of the CD.
Get this if you're a diehard Manowar fan... else, get Triumph of Steel, Kings of Metal, Sign of the Hammer, Fighting the World, Hail to England, Into Glory Ride, Warriors of the World, or Battle Hymns.