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The whole Barbarian metal thing is awesome, as long as you're not ironic about it. (Well, I don't know any Ironic barbarian metal bands, but I'm sure there are tonnes...). If you're going to do something, do it all the way, and it will be cool. Manowar are an example of this. It would be easy to diss these guys, but these guys' seriousness and just general hardcore-ness makes it awesome, and while some people will laugh about bands like Manowar, they'd never do it to their faces.
For people who have a passing familiarity with Manowar, the image might turn you off the music before you give it a listen. Don't worry though, it's not as bad as you might imagine. For the most part, Manowar deal in a highly listenable brand of big speed metal riffs, strong, operatic vocals, and big wanky guitar and bass parts. The song that really says all about this band would be the title track. The title track shows you everything that is awesome about Manowar. Check these lyrics:
Onward pounding into glory ride
Sign of the hammer be my guide
Final warning all stand aside
Sign of the hammer it's my time
Seriously, those are great lyrics. It's big, it's epic and it's metal as. While there's few places quite as stirring and anthemic as that bit, there's tonnes of awesome riffs and huge solos for you to enjoy. The Oath has some great proto thrash riffing, All Men Play on 10 has some hilarious (if awesome) lyrics and some pretty cool solos and riffs, and Mountain is a ballad that doesn't suck, which is pretty surprising. There's some pretty cool mellow parts, and it's done pretty tastefully. It was a very pleasant surprise, and proof that these guys can write killer songs.
I guess the one thing that lets this album down a bit is the production. Basically, for this kind of stuff you need thick and chunky production. Unfortunately the bass tones are real thin and the guitars don't have enough power in the mix. It's not the end of the world by any means, but it's a pity. On another note, the subject matter of Guyana (Cult of the Damned) is really weird for Manowar, and it's not really all that great a song. Manowar didn't quite have enough for a full album, I think, with a few of the songs being a bit below the mark.
In the end, this is a solid and thoroughly entertaining album. It's not an amazing work of art that will change your life, but chances are you'll love it and be headbanging along to it in no time, particularly the massive, epic title track. Extremely entertaining and epic. Highly recommended.