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Most people who call Manowar boring and cliche seem to forget they are still in possesion of four of the best heavy metal albums, being Battle Hymns, Into Glory Ride, Hail to England and Sign of the Hammer. Now Sign of the Hammer seems to be forgotten by most of the fans I know, which I think is a great shame.
The album opens with All Men play on 10, which is a good song and a lot better than Blow your Speakers from the Fighting the World album. The lyrics are fun and the music is solid slow-paced heavy metal the way it's supposed to be. The next song Animal speeds everything up and will manage to get your head banging. It's definitly the least good song on the album, but it still stands strong on it's own. I compare it most of the time with Fight Tooth and Nail by Virgin Steele.
From these two songs on everything gets only better and better. Thor the Powerhead is a classic headbanger in the same way as Revelation and Blood of my Enemies. It's epic, fast and has some great vocal and basswork. Mountains is a ballad which doesn't get boring or gay at all, it has an atmosphere of greatness all over it. Eric Adams sounds like a God in the same way only people like Dio or David Defeis can sound like.
The speed returns with Sign of the Hammer and The Oath, which are both really cool fast metal tracks like Kill with Power from Hail to England. Thunderpick is a bassolo, and whether you like it or not (I do), I think it's one of the best Joey ever played. Then comes Guyana (cult of the damned) to close the album. Once again all the right ingredients are here: the astonishing vocal work, the incredible bassplay, smashing drumwork and a great guitarsolo.
I don't know if I like Into Glory ride more than Sign of the Hammer, but I do know these two albums are by far the best and interesting they ever released. If you want to know where bands like Wotan got their inspiration from, you should buy them both. In fact, I like to stress this to be a 'buy or die' release. Case closed.