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Finally, they quit trying so hard... - 69%

UltraBoris, August 24th, 2002

"Return of the Warlord" indeed!!! Return to the fine 1982 form of "Battle Hymns" with great heavy metal anthems that, for the most part, don't sound forced or pretentious at all. There is only one crappy ballad, and one overlong "epic" number that really isn't all that bad. In other words, only one song that really demands to be skipped, while the rest features a fearsome intensity not seen in any previous Manowar studio album.

The first song, "Return of the Warlord" is definitely one of the best songs they've ever done. It just fucking WORKS - unlike so many of their other songs that fail to be catchy or utilise riffs correctly, this one just grabs you by the throat and kicks your face in several times. Next, "Brothers of Metal" is a bit less effective, but it sure beats the "part II" of the previous album. This song isn't as fast or constantly driven as some of the others on here, and thus it's a more "typical" Manowar song - but still, not bad.

Then, "The Gods Made Heavy Metal". Really damn simple riff under the verses - pretty much the same note over and over again, but hey, that's catchy as fuck, and it WORKS. Yes, Manowar are going with metal ideas that work here - a lot of people blasted them for this album, but ya know what, sometimes you gotta just shut up and rock. And this song does just that - it's almost thrash in parts, and rules.

"Courage" is justifies the existence of a skip button. Manowar ballads suck, except when done live, then some are great. Moving on, "Number One" is also very nice, as is "Outlaw", which is practically speed metal, and then the break in the middle ("shot through the heart, in the blink of an eye") provides a really effective counterpoint to the rest of the song.

"King" starts off slowly, but then turns into a midpaced riff-oriented headbanging monster. Nice groove here, just a very cool headbanging song.

Then, "Today is a Good Day to Die" - well, this IS Manowar after all, so they do have to put in their gratuitous pseudo-psychadelic interlude - lots of bass soloing and whatnot. This is kinda questionable to skip or not, the only real problem is is that it's nearly 10 minutes - very overlong.

Then, "My Spirit Lives On" continues the previous song and then turns it into an introduction for "Power", which closes the album off in incredibly good fashion. Pure fucking speed metal here - the riff work is total Judas Priest, and there is a really great guitar solo in here too. Another highlight.

So what we have here is Manowar not afraid to sound like Judas Priest at times - before they were so intent on being "tr00" and whatnot, that they just forgot to scream metal like there's no tomorrow, and put out boring product after boring product. Here, they hit upon a real winner. The best Manowar album, hands down.