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What a "cheesy" title one would think, but this title makes a perfect sense. From 80's in the USA where rock (hard rock mainly) bands were labeled as heavy metal (classic heavy metal), where suddenly thrash metal bands started to take control, and call everything that is not part of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement and thrash metal gay, where mallcore bands started to forge new "groove" trends in 90's, it's truly a triumph to put pure heavy metal record, specially if it belongs to its sub-genre power metal. Joey, Eric, David and Rhino didn't bow before the trends, which means no shitty drop tuned guitars, no growls, shouts, not mainly slow songs. This studio album is done not just to piss off the posers, but to continue the unique Manowar's style, and to carry on the flame of heavy metal music, which was infected by this mallcore disease (Pantera, Sepultura, Exorder, and all 80's thrash metal bands in general like Anthrax, Annihilator, Overkill and Sacred Reich which turned into "groove"). This release (just like Manowar itself) is far ahead of its time. The production, distortion, power, song's structures, everything sounds like it was made in 200(enter number).
Last year, when I played Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts (The Glory Of Achilles part) in front of my friend, he he asked me: "Is this from their new album?". That just confirms this fact. That song is a wonder of heavy metal music. 28:38 minutes in length, that explains everything. Of course length doesn't mean a shit if we talk about quality, but this one simply kicks ass with its amazing structure. It's made of 8 lesser songs, and each part fits this song. The whole song perfectly pictured Homer's Iliad, both musically and lyrically. Other bands can only wish to write lyrics like that, so myth about Manowar's cheesy lyrics is not true at all. This is really complex progressive metal package filled with power metal. So, music just fits these lyrics, when Achilles mourns his loss, you have epic slower part with choir, organ and some symphonic arrangements in order to complete epic atmosphere. When Achilles' armor is being forged comes the drum solo, where Rhino kicks some serious ass. When battle moments come, starts fast tempo, blazing riffs, insane Eric's vocals etc. Also, it has Joey's bass guitar solo (call it piccolo bass, I don't give a shit as long as he is awesome and unique), although it has some painful moments to listen.
That part is Desecration Of Hector's Body: Part 2. It's very simple: if you are not man enough to enjoy some loudness, heaviness and noise, combined with fast, technical, and tasty playing, you won't like Joey DeMaio. But even me, as a big fan of DeMaio, I think that part was too much. It's totally fine when he rapes his bass guitar while preforming live, because he wants to have some fun, but on studio release he had to be much more serious. I know he wanted to shred the fuck out of that instrument just to create picture of Achilles ripping Hector's dead body, but in a wrong way. Metal Warriors is kick-ass anthem-like anti-poser party heavy metal song. Anti-poser because of its lyrics, which are really well written. "Every one of us has heard the call, brothers of True Metal proud and standing tall. We know the power within us has brought us to this hall, there's magic in the Metal, there's magic is us all". What's cheesy about this part? It's simple, they announced show in a town, fans (brothers of True Metal) found out about that, and went there, the show starts inside the hall, magic is referred to their kick-ass performance. I could go on until tomorrow explaining the meaning of their lyrics to brainwashed hate-boys.
Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee shows Manowar's ability to make a song about Native Americans, not just Vikings. Excellent lyrics, drum rhythm, notable bass guitar sound, slower raw riffs give excellent Native American ambient. The most amazing thing is when Eric starts to scream like a bad-ass Native American ready to rip off white man's heart and eat it up raw. With The Power Of Thy Sword they proved once again that they are really masters of making epic, long, intense songs with insane amount of power. Fantasy lyrics are right here in this song, not in other songs from this release, since others are based on historic events, literature, hellish dark forces and heavy metal brotherhood. In fact, there's one more song with fantasy lyrical content, it's called Ride The Dragon. Unfortunately that song is nothing special. Ride The Dragon and The Demon's Whip are the weakest songs from this studio album, and they belong to Manowar's repertoire of very few mediocre songs. Besides huge amount of power which comes from intense drum work Rhino did, Eric's fierce vocals and David's savage riffs, there's nothing actually special to make these songs excellent.
Ride The Dragon and The Demon's Whip's ending part have structure like Death Hector's Revenge and The Glory Of Achilles (from Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts). Drums and riffs tend to make the same feel, but it didn't work well. And constantly repeating the same thing isn't much exciting. Because of this, this studio album can be easily classified as Manowar's weakest effort. Burning and Master Of The Wind are really unique and amazing songs. Nothing I've ever heard of before. Burning's mysterious ambient which consist of mid tempo and some slower parts where Eric talks with eerie tone, ending screams, raw, heavy riffs, nice rough bass lines, solo full of shredding, squeals and sweeps and great drum work take you to the depths of Hell, where masculine demons wait to feast with sinners' souls. Master Of The Wind stands at the end as the most tranquil song. It's full of lyrical wisdom, nice acoustic ambient, and Eric once again showed his amazing vocal performance.
Good sides of this release:
Once again excellent job done by this the most heavy metal band ever. All band members played very important role here. Joey's bass is very dominant, Rhino destroyed the drums, Eric did outstanding job, and David fits well here. I still prefer Ross The Boss over David Shankle, because Ross had more heavy metal feel than David, although David served Manowar well, specially on live shows. He performed live like insane. It's great thing that he was featured on this studio album only, because after him came Karl Logan who is like a mix of Ross' heavy metal feel and David's technical playing. So, this is another strong release, and it continued the series of excellent studio albums. It's recommended for every metalhead who wants to feel heavy metal fury unleashed.
Bad sides of this release:
Lack of creativity in songs Ride The Dragon and The Demon's Whip, but they are still good (3/5) songs.
Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts, Metal Warriors, Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee, Burning, The Power Of Thy Sword and Master Of The Wind.
This is one of my favorite albums and maybe even the best in the department of epic metal!
I like Manowar. They are not exactly my favorite band but I like most of their stuff and give their other albums a spin once in a while. But this is different. The album that comes closest to this in respect of epic feel is Into Glory Ride. But not only has this been released nearly ten years later and therefore has a much better production, but this is also so much better content-wise! Don´t get me wrong, I think IGR is one of the better Manowar releases, but this is just in another league. You won´t find any stuff like most songs off Louder than Hell or the first halves of Fighting the World and Battle Hymns on here. Just one track (Metal Warriors) falls in this department.
The production on this album has the effect to make the instruments seem rather physical. I don´t know how to explain this in a better way. This album is also the most extreme done by Manowar. In some parts it gets pretty aggressive, for example, in the finale of The Demon´s Whip...man, I think Manowar never did something this extreme on another record. The combination of the very epic feel, the aggressiveness, and the incredible voice of Eric Adams make this one of the or maybe the best album in its genre.
Eric sounds like a real warrior of ancient times in a fantasy world. This we know also from their other albums. But here he often screams in a very aggressive yet melodic style. I think besides Painkiller-era Halford, this is a voice that could be taken to define heavy metal. Unfortunately, these screams won´t be heard on any later records from the band. I think that maybe Eric's voice has just been used up while recording this album.
The drumming is great with a lot of use of the double bass drum that adds to the `warrior in a battle` feeling. The guitar solos are kind of unique on here. I don´t know a comparison to this. They are very confused yet not nontechnical. I think they fit in perfectly and contribute to the physical feel mentioned before. This feeling is also what separates this from other great epic albums like Virgin Steele's House of Atreus, Blind Guardian's Imaginations From the Other Side and Iced Earth's Burnt Offerings and makes Triumph of Steele more an actual journey through another world and not just a tale about it.
Highlights are the incredible screaming voice of Eric Adams and the great songs on here. These are Hector Storms the Wall, Hector´s Final Hour, Death Hector´s Reward, Ride the Dragon, The Power of thy Sword, The Demon´s Whip and Master of the Wind. The latter is a ballad and probably the best song on here as it conveys a really great epic feeling. In no way can Heart of Steel can compete with this!
BUY THIS!!! I you like epic metal, you at least need this. The absolute highlight of Manowar's catalog!
Manowar is the definitely the band with the most loyal fans but also the most fanatic criticizers, due to their attitude and the image of the true heavy metal warriors they created for themselves. The truth lies somewhere in between. They have always remained faithful to the spirit of heavy metal but their continuous statements that they are the only true metal band etc. can only amuse you. There is no doubt that they have given us at least two of the best albums in the history of metal and I’m referring to Hail to England and Sign of The Hammer. However, with their next two attempts they fell some steps behind. Now, The Triumph of Steel has come to silence all those who dared to defy them.
But has it really happened? Is Rhino fast enough on the drums to replace Columbus and can Shankle put himself in Ross the Boss’ shoes on the guitar? Was it worth the risk to compose a 28-minute song based on the Trojan War? In my opinion, not enough. Let’s take it from the beginning.
Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy is truly an epic, but by no means does it justify its 28 minutes. Thematically it is separated in eight parts. A simple introduction prepares the path for Hector Storms the Wall to explode. The excellent guitar riff and the pounding drums make it definitely the best part of Achilles... Then we have The Death of Patroclus and an amazing performance by Eric Adams. Funeral March that follows is an inspired two-minute theme. But the drum solo that comes next is a big mistake. Okay, Rhino is a good drummer, fast, with great technique, still after a point it sounds endless and boring.
Hector’s Final Hour is another fantastic performance by Adams as Hector lets out his feelings, knowing his death is at hand. That leads us to Death Hector’s Reward. This one is really good, with fast guitar and smashing drums. All is well until that self-centered, ego-maniac DeMaio delivers a completely useless bass solo. He is good but why does he have to remind us every time in the worst possible way? The Glory of Achilles is the part that completes this too long epic. I believe that twenty minutes would have been a lot better.
Personally, I find bigger pleasure in listening songs like Ride the Dragon or The Power of Thy Sword. The first is very speedy with razor-sharp riffs and an awesome finale. The second might be considered at first as just a typical fast track but it isn’t. The sword effects, its pompous refrain and the slow break at the middle make it simply magnificent. This is what I call Manowar!!
Up till now things work fine for Manowar. Unfortunately the rest of the songs are not that good. Spirit Horse of The Cherokee that refers to the Indians mistreatment by the white man and Demon’s Whip are good though they don’t come up to my expectations. Burning does not sound like Manowar at all. Basically it sucks. Metal Warriors is a poser song unworthy of their glorious past and the ballad Master of the Wind is no match for the one and only Heart of Steel. And by the way, Shankle’s solos throughout the whole album are uninspired and awful.
Summing up I have to say that The Triumph of Steel is not bad. At least it is ten times better than the abomination called Fighting the World. It is not the masterpiece we hoped for but still it’s quite good as long as you don’t compare it with their best and truly epic things they did in the past.
After reclaiming a great number of fans with the release of 1988’s "Kings of Metal," Manowar sought another new direction for their seventh effort. The music became even more epic and complex, the lyrics feature more variety than before, and guitarist Ross the Boss and drummer Scott Columbus were replaced by the technically superior David Shankle and Rhino, respectively. Unfortunately, this may be the only album to feature the new recruits...
Musically, this album may be one of the band’s most eclectic and diverse to date. Songs such as "Ride the Dragon" and "The Power of Thy Sword" are some of the fastest that Manowar has ever written while mid-tempo tunes like "Spirit Horse of the Cherokee" and "The Demon’s Whip" stay interesting thanks to a menacing atmosphere and commanding performances courtesy of each member. Also worth mentioning is the album closer and sole ballad "Master of the Wind." After hearing all the slower songs on the previous album, I find it amusing how this song manages to be powerful than the rest of them combined!
Of course, I must give the band credit for composing the opener "Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts." At over twenty-eight minutes long, this remains one of the band’s biggest undertakings to date. It features many different tempo changes throughout that range from mid-tempo marches, fast paced raids, jazzy solos that showcase every member of the band, and even a theatrical melodic sequence that brings to mind "March for Revenge (By the Soldiers of Death)." Add in lyrics that closely follow the story of Homer’s "Iliad" and you’ve got a fairly interesting epic.
Speaking of lyrics, these may be some of the most interesting that the band has ever written. Don’t worry, the lyrics are still about war and true metal, they’re just about different wars and true metal. While Manowar’s other albums typically immerse themselves within the worlds of Vikings and Valhalla, this album deals with topics such as the Trojan War ("Achilles"), Native American conquest ("Spirit Horse of the Cherokee"), and the occult ("The Demon’s Whip"). Also worth noting are "Master of the Wind" and "Metal Warriors" with the former offering some particularly inspired lyrics and the latter featuring more of the metal elitist lines that we’ve all come to love (“If you’re not into metal/You are not my friend!”).
It is fairly tough to identify the flaws that are present on this album. The biggest problem I found was with the album’s track order. While the "Achilles" epic is a pretty strong track, its long length and extensive solo sections may prove to be a little too overwhelming for some and probably shouldn’t have been considered for the opening position. A song like "Ride the Dragon" would’ve been better in its place.
All in all, this may be my personal favorite Manowar album and one that I would recommend for listeners interested in the band.
1) Excellently diverse songwriting
2) Powerful performances by each member
1) The track order could be better
2) "Achilles" may make this album a little too overwhelming for some.
My Current Favorites:
"Metal Warriors," "Spirit Horse of the Cherokee," "The Power of Thy Sword," "The Demon’s Whip," and "Master of the Wind"
When I heard that U.S. power metal stalwarts Manowar wrote a nearly-thirty minute epic based on the story of Greek legend Achilles, I was stoked. I am of the persuasion that when a band sets out to write a long single piece of music, they really get their shit together and make it an all-out masterpiece (see: Rush’s “2112 Suite” or “Hemispheres”). This assumption, combined with my love of prior Manowar releases, resulted in what might be the biggest musical disappointment I have ever experienced.
The album begins with said epic, entitled “Achilles: Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts.” Generally one would reserve the epic track for the closer, but putting it up front can work. The song begins well enough with a little dramatic sounding part before busting into the main riffage. Typical mid-paced Manowar with little keyboard touches, then it goes into a symphonic segue part which lasts until the eight minute mark. So far I’m underwhelmed, but it would soon lead to disgust. I mean, there’s a fucking four minute studio drum solo in here. Listening to this is incredibly tiring and the reward for surviving it is more symphonic bullshit. At the sixteen minute mark (over half of the song’s total length), the first actual fast part rears its ugly head. Ugly because it’s just another generic speed metal section, serving only to lead into *surprise* a Joey DeMaio bass solo! This piece is, like his other bass solos are, a technically self-indulgent shitfest, only different from the others in that he starts acoustic before kicking the distortion in. At this point I’ve vowed never to listen to this song again for as long as I have the ability to hear, and the track isn’t even over. After some three minutes of this, the guitars and drums kick back in and its back to the generic riffs before the guitar solo begins, as it’s the only instrument left to not get its chance to show off. At this point, I considered vowing never to listen to Manowar again (this was soon repealed), the song is that fucking bad. And then, at its very end, as the guitar is furiously shredding away over the final riff, the song begins to fade out. After expending nearly thirty minutes of their time (and mine) telling the triumphant tale of Achilles, DeMaio and company couldn’t even figure out a good way to end the fucking song. The fade-out is the laziest fucking way to end a piece of music, as evidenced by its frequent utilization in pop music. There are some exceptions of musicians using it artistically, but these are rare, and never apply to a lengthy track. It’s actually quite ironic considering the lyrics: having killed their dignity with the first twenty-seven minutes of this horrific aberration, Manowar then chose to desecrate its body by robbing the listeners of an ending. All in all, it’s the worst song I’ve ever heard by this band and a massive, massive failure
After that nearly endless sequence of pompous bullshit, I actually forgot that there’s the rest of the album yet to listen to. Things pick up here, as its back to standard Manowar territory, but never at any point does the shadow of that first song cease to loom over the album’s remainder. Sure “Metal Warriors” is pretty cool in that typical, cheesy Manowar fashion (“If you’re not into metal, you are not my friend!”), but man, did you hear that thirty minute travesty that opened the album? “The Demon’s Whip” resurrects the darker sound of past greats like “Bridge of Death,” but how could you forget how fucking terrible that first song was? At no point during the rest of the album could I get over that fucking awful opener/centerpiece and it sucked out just about all the enjoyment I’d usually get from a Manowar release. New guitarist David Shankle pulls some ridiculously fast guitar solos out of his ass (his mastery of EVH-style artificial harmonic runs is commendable), new drummer Rhino is an absolute machine when it comes to his instrument, Joey DeMaio delivers yet another great performance on bass, and Eric Adams still puts his heart and soul into the music while screaming out his lungs, but The Triumph of Steel is nonetheless tainted. Once you hear how inadequate the band is at writing a thirty minute song, you can’t help but start to find flaws in their normal songwriting and what would otherwise be a decent (albeit generic) Manowar album degenerates into a full-fledged atrocity. Got riffs? Manowar apparently doesn’t.
The band’s newfound love for poorly-written symphonic sections is a bit confusing as well. The atmospheric numbers “Burning” and “Master of the Wind” sound horribly incomplete, while random synth sections show up in “The Power of Thy Sword” and long-ass intro sequences mar “Spirit Horse of the Cherokee” and “The Demon’s Whip.” Seriously guys, just play the songs already.
Never let it be said that I do not respect Manowar for flying the flag of true metal at all times, even when it was least popular. But as The Triumph of Steel clearly proves (and it pains me to say this), true metal isn’t always good metal. Manowar clearly over-extended themselves on this record; the mediocre second half of the album implodes under the weight of the bombastic opener.
As, most of us, know this album contains a song that is 29 minutes long. "Achilles, Agony, and Ecstasy In Eight Parts" does dominate the album. The song is, as the title states, in eight parts, and it chronicles the battle between Hector and Achilles. The song itself, is very jazz inspired. That doesn't mean it has a horn section, but the structure of the song is similar, with each member having their own extended solo. The drum solo in particular is very good, displaying an arc, where it builds and builds to fierceness.
So, what about the rest of the album? You may be surprised to hear that there are 8 songs on the album. "Achilles...", and seven others, and two of them are almost eight minutes long. This is a long disc, yet it is entertaining throughout, a flaw we find in many similar lengthed albums.
We, have Manowar as we all know them on this album, with massive riffs, signature vocals, and...everything else. The album is structured very well. However, there is one thing that annoys me. Almost every song begins with a narration. "Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee" doesn't start until a minute and a half into the song. We have to endure a minute and a half of two people talking at once, making it even worse than a normal narration because we can't even hear what they're saying, before we get to the actual song. The song itself is very good though with some plodding riffs and drum beats and the chorus is one of the best on the album.
The narrations really fill the album with a lot of crap, since almost every song has a minute of it. None the less, this is a great little disc and I'd like to begin on an high note by praising Manowar's sense of humor. In the Cd booklet they write, "Suffer and die slowly listening to our music." You know when a band writes something along the lines that they suck, they're good. Look at Primus, whose slogan for the longest time was "Primus sucks.", accompanied by fans chanting it at concerts. The sense of humor just makes me relate with Manowar better.
To conclude, this is a great album, with no weak tracks, and consistent throughout it's long run time. Manowar fans should embrace this album, even if they did not like it before, for it is a great display of Manowar just being an amazing band. I conclude.
It's not a bad CD. Really, it's not. It's just a sea of musical mediocrity, with cheesy lyrics. Not that we expect lofty things from Manowar... cheesy lyrics is their schtick, after all. "If you do not like metal, you are not my friend".
The vocals are sometimes mid-ranged, sometimes falsetto singing and screaming, and are very good. They actually work well with the cheesy lyrics--I can't imagine a guy with a death metal grunt singing this stuff. By this point in their career, the vocalist has a pretty good ear for when to stay low key, and when to turn the amp up to 11.
As far as guitars go, there isn't much that's memorable here. The guitar work isn't bad--there even some nice riffs and melodies--it's just not very memorable stuff. The production is fairly good, and the instruments do sound good, there just isn't enough instrumentation going on for the listener to hear. There's a lot of sustaining chords, dead air, etc.
The bass is good, as one might expect from this band. The drums, on the other hand, are a sore spot for me. I'm thinking especially of the drum solo. It's hard to make a drum solo interesting, but it's even worse to put it in a song that is already way too long at 28 minutes! What were they thinking? I guess if you're gonna bury a drum solo somewhere, though, that'd be the place to do it.
Again, this isn't a bad album, it just has a definite "been there, done that" vibe to it. There's nothing new here, it's just music playing, to be forgotten as soon as you stop the CD. If you're interested in the band, you'd be better off getting one of their older albums.
Here, we have a flawed work that clearly shows how Manowar have grown. The production, while being significantly cleaner than Kings of Metal, is wonderfully heavy, with a solid bass and gritty guitar, with wonderful licks courtesy of David Shankle. The drum sound is monumensious, and the performance is bone crushing.
Aside from that, what makes Manowar great? Is it the endless posturing on how metal they are? No, and that's the flaw that grew out of proportion on Louder Than Hell -- a belief that someone possesses a quality simply because he says he does. Manowar are no more metal here than they were on Kings of Metal, yet here, they seem to be more obsessive about it; even on the songs where the subject isn't metal. The lyrical content is matured, approaching other subject areas besides vikings, odin, and battle, like the Cherokee, for which Manowar were brave enough to admit they were pretty good fighters. But behind all that, what's really here? An album with lots of headbanging moments and plenty of anthemic songs, plus an outstanding drum performance. Isn't that what Manowar have always been about?
But, alas, there's the song "Achilles, Ecstasy, and Agony in 8 parts." This song would've been a wonderful, albiet schmaltzy, but overall very epic and incredible if it was a.) at the end, and b.) without the incessent soloing, and c.) not quite as jarring and abrupt. If Manowar had explored the idea enough, it would've made an excellent, albiet not as long song.
So, what we have here is a bunch of great, NEW ideas (that they would milk for another decade), but haven't quite been used correctly. Think of it as Manowar for the 90's. Sadly enough, it would end up being by far Manowar's best CD of the 90's, with Louder Than Hell, too inconsistent to hold much value to anybody who actually appreciates Manowar not for being metal, but for being epic and glitzy.
I can see why some of the more impatient sorts out there got bored with "Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy in 8 Parts", but it makes a great album starter in my opinion. It features everything that makes Manowar great: outstanding vocals ranging from clean to scream from Eric Adams, jaw-dropping musicianship, blisteringly heavy riffing and dynamics to the max, it's all good here. Rhino earns his nickname with an amazing drum solo that builds from quiet cymbal tickling to full-on double kick massacre and an amazing ambient drum sound that took some getting used to, as I thought he was triggered at first. Joey, naturally, gets his solo space and impresses as always, as does David Shankle, a more technically advanced player than Ross, if not with quite as much character as Ross had. I actually really like this piece, and it took guts for Manowar to do what their muse called them to do. They have my respect anyway, and this tune cements that.
The rest of the album follows suit with a series of the usual metal anthems they are best at, like "Metal Warriors (Brothers of Metal Pt. II)", fantasy-based lyrics like "Ride The Dragon" (AWESOME bass work in this, including what I am certain is the only instance of a bassist using a talk box in the intro and ending for a chilling series of dragon roars and snarls) and "The Demon's Whip", more diversified lyrical content like "Spirit Horse of the Cherokee" (another nice intro with American Indian language dialogue over Eric's menacing spoken word part, and you gotta admire a white guy like Joey writing pro-Indian lyrics and respecting them as the strong fighters that they were), and "Master of the Wind" ends things with an emotional appeal to follow your dreams as only they can pen. I give Manowar credit for always trying to give their fans a positive message in some of their songs, and this is one of the reasons I respect them as I do. I really like this album, and I wish people would give it more of a chance.
"Triumph Of Steel" is - as far as i'm concerned - very much underrated by a lot of people - it sure as hell isn't as good anymore as any of their first releases (and has one huge mistake) but overall the band does what it does well - more of the same - and especially Eric Adams carries this record from beginning to end - with some superb vocal performances.
Let me start from the beginning with their "main" mistake - the overly long (27 minutes !) "Achilles, Agony & Ecstacy in 8 parts" - honestly - this could have been 4 parts shorter and noone would have even cared - there are some absolutely gutwrenching and boring moments on that song alone - like the overly long and rather unspectacular bass & drum solo's - which lead nowhere at all - on the other hand though - there ARE some excellent, speedmetal bits on there which are absolutely awesome - just next time you guys do something like this - shorten it by 20 minutes...that would suffice more than enough...
The rest of the tracks - I must say - are not bad at all - featuring one of my personal favourite Manowar tracks of all time - the excellent "Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee" - a superb basher. In fact the only "weaker" song is "Metal Warriors" - which is one of their now standard "metal anthems" - nothing special, although not bad at all either. The rest of the songs are well up to standard - with "Master Of The Wind" being the first "real" Manowar ballad - and succeeding very much at it - "Power Of Thy Sword" & "Demon's Whip" being two excellent longer songs, "Burning" a nice mid-tempo doomy song and finally "Ride The Dragon" an excellent speedmetal track.
All in all it might not be the perfect Manowar album - but the production, Adam's vocal's and a number of great songs certainly keep it up to a decent level - now if only they would have shortened that "epic" track in the beginning - things would have been a lot better.
My goodness this album is terrible at times. They just cannot find any sense of consistency in the songwriting department. The first song, Achilles, in many many parts, is just a complete mishmash of pretty much every possible heavy metal idea that Manowar have ever tried - lots of gratuitous soloing (there's a fucking cymbal solo) and the actual song doesn't go anywhere or do anything.
"Metal Warriors" is just boing as fuck. Imagine the really really straightforward and completely incident-free construction of a song like "The Number of the Beast". Now imagine something even more so. There's nothing to drive the song forward, it just kinda plods.
The highlight of the album is probably the second half of "The Demon's Whip"... it finally gets around to doing something. Also, "Ride the Dragon" is decent too, but then the album closer is a hideous ballad, "Master of the Wind". In general, Manowar does not do ballads that come of well in the studio. Not even "Heart of Steel" is good in the studio, even though it's godly live.
Yes, Manowar are far better a live band than a studio band - for the most part, the studio songs lack life and inspiration, and just go through the motions. This album is probably the most accurate example of that - just questionable ideas thrown over songs with no biting or catchy riffs.