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Few bands can retain the long term popularity and success that Manowar has. Only legendary bands like Maiden, Priest, Ozzy, and Sabbath continue selling records and concert tickets on the scale that Manowar does. How do they do it? Like them or not, they are tremendous showmen. Everything they do is over the top. Their latest release "The Sons of Odin" is the perfect example of the group taking something seemingly minuscule—a single—and making it massive.
"The Sons of Odin" was supposed to be a mere single; instead, Manowar added two new tracks and two live tracks. The version I am reviewing "The Immortal Edition" is an immaculate gatefold album that comes with a slip case cover. This version also comes with a bonus DVD complete with a Fan Convention Documentary, Heart of Steel Choir and Orchestra rehearsal, Earthshaker Fest 2005 promo trailer showing Manowar and the Orchestra playing together in front of thousands of fans, and a slideshow of pictures from the convention with the album's audio tracks playing in 5.1 Surround Sound.
The album portion of this package begins with two live tracks, "The Ascension" and "King of Kings". These classic tracks are a testimony to Manowar’s superb live sound. Bands will often exclude any orchestral or keyboard arrangements when playing live. Not Manowar. They perform these tracks exactly as they appeared on the album. After nearly thirty years of screaming his lungs out, Eric Adams still has it in him, perfectly hitting his highs.
The new tracks are classic Manowar battle hymns. "Odin" could be used in a movie score for movies like "Conan the Barbarian" or "Beast Master". It's melodic notes hover somberly like a warrior sadly watching his family incinerate on a funeral pyre. Horns and drums, and even a gong change the downtrodden tone to one of awe and bravery.
The grandiose orchestrations of "Odin" transition into more classical anthems of might with "Gods of War". Like Heimdall signifying the coming of Ragnarok, this track is called in with majestic horns and thunderous kettle drums. The rhythm created by the orchestra is mimicked by Manowar's instruments of electricity and steel—guitar, bass, and drums. The said guitar riff is heavy and potent, the type of rhythm a Norse king would have wanted in his mead hall after a victorious battle. This track will be great for fans to swing their beer to while singing along at home or live.
The title track is good enough that Manowar could have released it by itself as a single and it would have kept the fans happy. This track features a chugging riff, seemingly made of chain mail backed by magical choirs. The music breaks into a drum and bass verse made to draw attention to Eric Adams valiant narrations. The steely-toned guitar cuts in as Adams voice becomes more frantic, exciting the will for war, until Adams hits his trademark warrior cry near the end of the track. An organ signifies the closing of battle, and what looks like our characters losing the battle. Soon the horns and drums kick in and the narrator (Odin) tells us the warriors hit their berserker rage and overcame their foes.
The DVD portion shows a documentary of their fan convention. Manowar fans are nuts! They are some of the most faithful fans in all of music, some coming as far as Brazil and Australia to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. Fans from a total of thirty-five countries came to pay tribute to one of metal's greatest bands. The organizer got with Manowar to put on an awesome spectacle of Manowar memorabilia and events including a framed contract singed in the band's blood on display, a beer drinking contest, fans interview past and present band members, Miss Manowar 2005, and many other events geared toward the Manowar lifestyle. The whole convention was a Manowar fan's dream, which further shows the band’s devotion to its fans. It also makes for a great video for those who couldn't attend this monumental event. Oh yeah, and there were plenty of boobs!
There are other sections of the DVD worth noting, but the documentary is the majority of the disc. More than enough has been said for this album, especially considering it is only a five-song E.P. Fans of the band will buy this album to see for themselves, anyway. Mark my words, these fans will not be a bit disappointed with the final product.
originally published on metal-mayhem.co.uk