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Although I am a huge fan of Manowar's early work, I must confess that the band's latest releases were kind of disappointing. Both “Warriors Of The World” and “Gods Of War”, despite having some bright moments, were not nearly as good as the material on albums like “Hail To England”, “Kings Of Metal” or “Triumph Of Steel”. That being said, it is easy to understand why I did not expect much from their newest EP, “Thunder In The Sky”. The news that they would include a ballad in 16 languages on the album brought my expectations even lower, since their last ballads were really horrible.
So, I was gladly surprised by style the band adopted in this “Thunder In The Sky” EP. Gone are the endless intros, narrations and interludes from “Gods Of War”. On the new songs, there is also no trace of the symphonic elements that infested “Warriors Of The World”. What we have here is the purest heavy metal that everyone has always expected from the so called Kings Of Metal.
Three of the four new songs, “Thunder In The Sky”, “Let The Gods Decide” and “God Or Man” could be easily in any of their earlier albums. They may not be as brutal or fast as the material on “Triumph of Steel”, but they are heavy and straightforward, and have nice choruses and excellent performances by all the members.
However, the other new song, the aforementioned ballad “Father”, sucks big time. Cheesy and mellow, it sucks in all 16 languages it was recorded and does not come even close to the band’s best ballads, such as “Heart Of Steel” and “Master Of The Wind”.
Also included in this EP is the song “Die With Honor”, that had already been played live and released as a single, and a new version of the classic song “The Crown And The Ring”, from the “Kings Of Metal” album. The first is a heavy metal anthem just like “Metal Warriors” and “Warriors Of The World United”, with a killer chorus made to be sung with fists up in the air. The second, although not as good as the original version, is still a terrific song, by far their best attempt at doing something symphonic. The guitars are a bit heavier on this version, and Eric Adam's voice is still amazing.
All in all, “Thunder In The Sky” is a return to form to the Kings Of Metal. It is really good to see them playing more straightforward metal, and if the next album comes along the lines of this EP, I am sure it will be much better than their last couple of releases.