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Overlooked but still very strong... - 84%

Sinner, February 8th, 2003

For some odd reason "Sign Of The Hammer" is probably the Manowar album which gets overlooked most of the time - probably having more to do with the crap distribution (at that time) than the musical contents - which are strong as usual.

Even though this album followed hot on the heels of "Hail To England" and certainly is not bad in its own right - it never manages to match the class that that one had (or "Into Glory Ride" for example) - mainly due to the production which is somehow a bit lacking (the drums don't have the punch they should have for example) and a couple of "weaker" songs.

First off - let's start with the "weak" songs - personally (although I know various opinions) I couldn't do a lot with opener "All Men Play On 10" - which is probably Manowar's lamest anthem to date - the up-tempo rocker "Animals" (the lyrics to this one are particulary lame) or the (surprise surprise) bass solo "Thunderpick". Those songs don't cut it for me and are among the weaker ones that the band did so far.

Saving grace for this release though - are the remaining five tunes - which are very strong without a doubt. There are two "epic" songs ("Mountains" and "Guyana") both of which certainly don't have to hide for any other similar ones - and then there are three speedy songs - off which "Thor" and "Sign Of The Hammer" are genuine classics - and "The Oath" strangely enough always gets overlooked - even though it's a stonking speed track as well.

All in all this certainly is an album which is way above average - even though it didn't quite seem to get the love and attention of the metal masses upon initial release - Manowar fans should get this without hestitation...(after they got "Hail To England" first though).