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For many friends of mine, this record has been their first contact to metal music and was the spark of ignition that enlightened their passion for this kind of music. Back in the days, the title track of the record and the amazing "I Believe" that didn't make it on the album and was only included on the amazing single "The Dawn Of Battle" had a lot of radio and television airplay and underlined the reborn popularity of metal music in the beginning of the last decade.
When I First got in touch with the record I was impressed by the epic feeling of many songs, the catchy choruses and the raw energy of the lyrics, the symbolism and the show of the band. Today, I have a different point of view and must admit that the band didn't develop a lot musically, lyrically or culturally in a gap of six years between two studio albums. The lyrics are though largely influenced by the terrorist attacks the year before this record came out and feels a little bit too patriotic and cheesy at some points in tracks like "The Fight For Freedom" even though this song is at least musically one of the more addicting ones on here. This fact doesn't change much as the lyrics are so limited that they always sound the same no matter if the band sings about a medieval battle, about being true metal martyrs or about current political events. That's why Manowar should simply not touch this kind of topic as it is way too serious for their kind of slapstick lyrics. On the other hand, we don't need oversized drama lyrics from Iced Earth on their "The Glorious Burden" output. These bands should simply concentrate on their strength and play great metal music as political and art don’t mix very well.
Apart of the exception I just mentioned, Manowar fail at several points on this record to concentrate on accurate song writing. The instrumental "Valhalla" is quite valueless as well as the overlong piece of classic music which is "The March". The patriotic "An American Trilogy" and the Italian opera excerpt "Nessun Dorma" are two cover versions that are well done without reaching the majesty of the originals. Eric Adams is one of the most gifted singers in the metal universe and it's touching that he dedicates a track to his late mother and also the Italian fans but he definitely is no Luciano Pavarotti or Elvis Presley on the other hand. His performance on the record sounds fresh while the drumming sounds a little bit too basic at some points, the guitars deliver the usual goods and even the usually great bass guitar is less impressive as it has already been in the past.
What's left is a bunch of energizing but sometimes quite similar metal tracks that represent everything Manowar stands for without being as unique and groundbreaking as the band's earlier battle hymns. The strongest tracks are the angry and epic opener "Call To Arms" that works very well live but this track could have been cut down by a few minutes. "Warriors Of The World United" is a simplistic but definitely unforgettable metal hymn that any metal maniac in the world should know by heart and must not hide between the simple and brutal catchiness of classics like "Hail And Kill" or "Gloves Of Metal". The more brutal and straight forward "Hand Of Doom" is also a great neck breaker that should please to all fans of the band and reminds me of the band's earlier days.
In the end, this album is filled with light and shade. There are many instrumental fillers, covers and faceless tracks but also a few interesting experiments and energizing metal hymns. If the band would have put the songs from the "Dawn Of Battle" single on this record there would have been more quality than quantity on this album. As this isn't the case, this album is only situated somewhere between shallow mediocrity and good average. It's fun to listen to this record from time to time but nothing too memorable. For its nostalgic importance for many friends of mine and the fact that there is no track I have sung and head banged to as this record's title track, I might add a few points. Apart of the title track, you should really keep your money and buy the beautifully made "Dawn Of Battle" single instead. Honestly said this random album already announced the band's lack of ideas that would lead to the megalomaniac boredom they released with "Gods Of War". The band had surpassed its zenith and should have gathered all possible forces to release a strong last record but they failed to do this and leave as heroes of heavy metal music. If you want to discover the hevay metal universe or the best stuff from Manowar you should rather stick to one of the six first records and leave this one alone.