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After 6 years, the pretense repository must have been just boiling over, because somewhere in the middle of a solid heavy metal album, it suddenly fucking explodes, wiping out half the album in a flurry of utter and abject stupidity.
This album has some of their best stuff, and some of their worst - it's like a totally polarised version of Kings of Metal in some strange way, on many levels. In the middle, there is crap. That is the fractal nature. Good songs with crappy middles, and then the middle of the album is crap, and finally the ending songs are good again, but with silly interludes.
"Call to Arms" is fucking classic. Legendary, momentous, amazing, glorious, in every possible way - this just may be my favourite Manowar song of all time. They definitely borrowed something from the WASP catalogue - something in the way of dead-on melody. Yes, it's just as cheesy as "Brothers of Metal" or "Hail and Kill" or "Manowar" or another N tracks with similar subject matter, but this one just comes out absolutely fucking right. Even the obligatory slowed-down section is quite nicely done.
Then... "Fight for Freedom" starts off slowly with some cheesy spoken stuff over some remarkably lame and undermotivated piano parts (guys... WASP again... Thunderhead... go listen to Thunderhead 437091798 more times and learn correct use of piano) - then it builds up and goes into a midpaced bludgeoning rocker. Solid when all is said and done.
Okay we're not going to talk about the next few songs for a bit - we're gonna skip ahead to the title track because that is where the album goes back to sounding like a Manowar album. No wait - like a GOOD Manowar album. We'll dissect the five slabs of pretentious bullshit in the middle in just a little, kids - so hold on.
Anyway, Warriors of the World. One of my favourite metal memories is my friend Alex and I riding through the streets of Brooklyn, at 4am after a Virgin Steele show, and BLASTING this very song. Over and over again. This is excellent headbanging material - well, except for that hideously silly middle section. Just about every good song on here has a little slowdown in the middle, and this one is the most overt and just about the worst. But the rest of the song is awesome, especially that chorus. It almost - not quite, but almost - makes me understand what the big deal is about this band, about the whole Metal Warrior image. Not quite, but fuck yeah that's a fun singalong.
Then, Hand of Doom, a much faster number, and also very excellent. Except in the middle they kinda fuck it over with some silly half-thrash riffs - not quite as bad as that sounds, but for a few seconds the song does get kinda awkward. Pick up the pace already - yes, here we go, nice chorus. Rock, kids - rock like there is no tomorrow. That is why I can't take Manowar all that seriously - even when they're cranked to their 11, it's only a 9 on the global scale because they keep wavering. They can be quite good, but so often they have to throw in the cheesy shit, just to make sure the audience is aware that, after all this time, they're still tr00.
Okay, we get the point. Less interludes, more fucking riffage. Anyway, House of Death is also very good, except of that stupid part in the middle. But when it explodes into the guitar solo, all is well with the world again. Fight Until we Die is similar, also quite good - this is not all that differentiable from other average heavy metal, but hey, it fucking rocks and is fun to sing along to cranked to maximum volume, so it's good stuff. If they could be like THIS all the fucking time, they would just about be the greatest metal band ever. This song also has the notable tendency of going at 100% speed from beginning to end. Admirable.
Okay so that was the good. What about the bad, you may ask? Two stupid synth pieces (Valhalla and The March) are total throwaways. What about the other three tracks? Please, Grandfather, tell me a story - about the other three tracks? Who were those tracks?
Those... were the FECES!!!!! One silly opera thing... Nessun Dorma. Okay in and of itself it's not bad, but Manowar isn't about being Opera Warriors. Then, Swords in the Wind is the shit ballad that Manowar must put on every album.
And what of the last song? This is just about the worst song in the history of existence. This is giving "31 Flavors" (Sacred Reich) a run for its money in the "stuff that sorely wishes it were mallcore" category. This is so fucking cheesy - even my mom doesn't listen to this kind of crap. "Oh I wish I were in Dixie." Oh I wish you were there too. So I wouldn't have to hear you in Boston. I'm not even going to comment further on this absolute outrage - an insult to the sense of hearing, this one is.
When all is said and done - well, some of this album is quite good. As I said, Call to Arms fucking owns everything in sight. This is incredible shit. Some other good tracks too. Manowar should seriously put out an album with 12 balls-out rockers in the Call to Arms vein. Hell, they can put in some ballads too, but make those grab you by the throat too... (Forget swords, just ride the wind forever free.........)
I submit to the court one "W.A.S.P.", the true Kings of Metal. Give me a circular sawblade codpiece over a fur bikini any day.