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Manowar > Battle Hymns > Reviews
Manowar - Battle Hymns

You know the one, with the crashing and the SCREEEAMS - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, October 4th, 2023

Manowar is a band seemingly tailor-made for polarization. Even if you’ve acquired a taste for their ultra-manly USPM cheese, their body of work showcases some of the genre’s absolute best and worst with some of their most majestic anthems standing alongside their most embarrassing. Their extreme commitment to musical kayfabe and tendency to abandon about as many projects as they’ve started make them a simultaneously frustrating yet entertaining group of personalities to follow. Their influence is broad across many demographics but it’s not been uncommon for some acolytes to deny the connections, opting instead for more cool kid-approved namedrops like Bathory.

While the hard rock-isms and blue collar lyrics can make 1982’s Battle Hymns seem like an outlier compared to the albums that followed, it established the band’s signature tropes with proud arrogance. Bassist Joey DeMaio establishes dominance early on dispensing the riffs with gnarly distortion and occasional clean trills. Ross the Boss’s guitar work is more complementary but never feels too underutilized with plenty of tight leads and solos on display.

But with the bass often prone to showboating, even more so in the future, it isn’t too much of a stretch to consider vocalist Eric Adams the band’s true strongest asset. His voice perfectly exemplifies the Manowar attitude despite him never writing a lyric, his burly range is lower than your Dickinson/Tate archetype but can still reach for higher shrieks with confidence while his intense charisma keeps the hammy acting fun. Even at their most cringe, the dude sounds like he believes every word of what he sings.

That conviction is especially helpful in making the first half’s more rocking out songs not feel too out of step with their overall vision. “Death Tone” and “Metal Daze” are an effective opening one-two that both place emphasis on mid-tempo rhythms, the former setting up a mean biker snarl and the latter delivering their heavy metal mission statement with catchy chants. The Nam vet perspective on “Shell Shock” pairs well with its especially grinding riff set and their self-titled song puts a little upbeat boost alongside with the album’s most boisterous chorus.

From there, the last couple songs are where the Manowar identity truly takes hold. The crawling riffs and menacing atmosphere complete with Orson Welles spoken word can make “Dark Avenger” feel like a step into outright doom territory, but a sense of determined rage keeps it from falling into the sort of despair that Trouble and Candlemass would come to codify. “William’s Tale” is a brief interlude that’s a rare example of a DeMaio bass solo that keeps from getting too out of hand and the closing title track remains one of their greatest epics, presenting its level gallop with stirring battle cries, guitar fanfare, and an abundance of theatrical dynamics.

Overall, Manowar did well to put their best foot forward with Battle Hymns. While the aesthetic would still need a little more finetuning, it comes with musicianship whose prowess matches its hunger. It strikes a strong balance in its presentation, undeniably more over the top than what any of their peers offered at the time but also not getting too caught up in the self-indulgences that’d come to define them. All things considered, it’s a very bold first impression.

Battle Hymns - Manowar - 83%

Grim Sorcerer, November 6th, 2022
Written based on this version: 1982, 12" vinyl, Liberty Records

My first review on The Metal Archives. It gets off to a great start with Manowar's 1982 debut, Battle Hymns, one of the first albums I've ever heard. This is the line-up: Joey De Maio on bass, Ross Friedman, better known as Ross the Boss, on guitar (it was their union that led to the founding of the band, back in 1980), the amazing Eric Adams on vocals and Donnie Hamzik ​​on drums, which left Manowar before the band's second full length, namely Into Glory Ride, was released.

Going back to Battle Hymns, it must be said that this is a really great album. All the compositions, entrusted to the couple De Maio / Ross the Boss (not counting a couple of tracks composed by De Maio alone), are of great impact, have great riffs that overwhelm the listener and leave their mark.

As for the genre, we cannot speak of a heavy metal album, as it is the hard rock of the 70s that is predominant in terms of sound, and not even epic metal, the style that is usually attributed to this American band. The compositions on side A take great inspiration from the hard rock of the previous decade, but they do not copy it but rather renew it, in a certain sense. It must be said that tracks like the opener and Metal Daze are great, and the same goes for Fast Taker.

The B side, on the other hand, is totally different: it opens with a self-celebration, Manowar, which will certainly not be the last, we will find others in the subsequent albums of the band, which makes us understand the personality of Manowar and their undisputed leader Joey De Maio; but we cannot conclude this review without naming the titles of the two masterpieces of this album (early prototypes of epic metal): I'm clearly talking about Dark Avenger, which initially starts with an almost epic-doom trend, which hosts the spoken words of the director Orson Wells in the central part, to then speed up and become heavier in the final and Battle Hymn, an epic ride, interspersed in the central part of its almost seven minutes of duration by a melodic cue, which puts an end to the disc in an incredible way, leaving the listener anesthetized by the glory and the fomentation of the sonic battle.

Maybe it's not a masterpiece, but it's definitely a great record, essential along with a few other albums for the newborn epic metal movement.

Born to live for evermore! - 95%

Xyrth, June 7th, 2022

Pretty much ignored and sometimes even discredited by the vast majority of rock enthusiasts worldwide and even a decent amount of self-proclaimed metalheads, United States Power Metal was an influential development in the heavier side of rock music that preceded thrash and European power metal by several years. You won’t read much about it on Rolling Stone or other mainstream sources, but it definitely changed the game for headbangers all over the world. Despite the still underground nature of this movement, the equally passionately loved/hated Manowar arose from that nascent scene during its diaper-wearing years to reach the upper echelons of metaldom, obtaining international iconic status; icons of both the power and the ridicule of metal music as perceived by metalhead and non-metalheads alike. While Manowar themselves call their art “true metal”, the USPM label certainly applies to the influence them, and other similarly styled bands (Manilla Road, Warlord, Omen, Brocas Helm…) bestowed upon heavy metal music, with elements unheard before their arrival.

Battle Hymns is a forty-year old statement of this enduring power and influence, the first chapter of one of America’s greatest metal acts of all time. It has two distinct halves; side A definitely rooted in the early heavy metal sound of the late 70s as provided by the classic gods Sabbath, Rainbow, Priest, Scorpions and so forth, and side B, where Joey DeMaio and Ross the Boss’ band started to experiment with faster, harder and more epic sounds. “Death Tone” and “Metal Daze” are mid-paced rockers, the first one being a tad heavier and the second one possessing a catchier chorus, both concocted from a mixture of the aforementioned influences, while “Fast Taker” is, well, faster… having a stronger Judas Priest flavor, with Eric Adams even channeling some Halford. “Shell Shock” is a hard rocker number about ‘Nam and has a Ted Nugent scent. I know, I know, the guy’s a total moron but back in the seventies he rocked quite hard, and I imagine Ross was influenced by him, like thousands other guitarists. Despite the generic sound of these five tunes, two things add personality and a uniqueness to them: Eric Adams masterful and multi-faceted voice and Chief Joey DeMaio’s potent, muscular bass playing. The Manowar sound is already evidently there, but that’s nothing compared to…

Side B grabs you by the balls with the Saxon-esque “Manowar” and never lets go. So far, that’s the heaviest, meanest composition in the LP. This track makes you wanna headbang fucking hard and throw the sign of the hammer, more so than the preceding songs combined. Still, things will get even better with the tremendous epicness and badassery of the two six-minuters at the end of the record. “Dark Avenger” is a Frazetta (or his nephew, the great Ken Kelly, R.I.P. 2022) painting come alive. The Deathdealer character clearly comes to mind with the lyrics. DeMaio’s bass has more testosterone than a whole NFL defensive unit, sounding like a modern stoner metal band all by itself. Ross’ riffs are initially doomy, as the composition starts like a slow crusher. The lyrics about tragedy and revenge also bring to mind the first Conan movie, just a couple of months released in cinemas before this album’s own release date (what an epic time to be alive!). After the 2:30 mark, Mr. Orson Welles narration hits you with his vigorous voice, telling us about the titular character’s return from hell. Metal as fuck, this tune has it all, as the explosive conclusion arrives at the 4-minute mark, all hell breaking loose. The final two minutes of the track, the deeds of reckoning by our Dark Avenger, are almost speed metal/proto thrash in intensity.

“I spare not land or servants
My wake is smoke and flame
I take their wives and daughters
They stand there watching, watching
Hoping to gain their lives,
But when I'm through
They know that they must pay…”

Ross the Boss solos are fiery and merciless, and the song finishes as excitingly as it started. The neoclassical shred-fest that is “William’s Tale” might be more of a curiosity than a necessary song here, albeit it works as the bridge between the two mighty epics. A delight for shred-heads, I still listen to that instrumental occasionally, but it remains the weakest song of their debut in terms of amusement. The main course is served last, with the near-seven minutes of “Battle Hymns” closing the record in total epic fashion. A mid-paced tune with martial riffs and an immortal chorus, I finally got to listen to it live at the barely pre-pandemic 2019 Hell & Heaven Metal Fest here in Mexico, where Manowar were the main attraction by a landslide. The keyboard and percussion samples on this monument of metalness are spot on, giving the song added depth. I love Eric Adams passionate singing here, and I’m never sure if this one or “Dark Avenger” are my favorites from their debut, but both are highly ranked in my all-time, all-genre metal favorites list.

1982, what an epic year. Needless to say, the 2010 reworked version, while not total crap, is totally unnecessary, just a minor curiosity to experience once or twice in a lifetime, mainly because of Sir Chirstopher Lee’s replacing Orson Welles. Oddly, the deaths of both luminaries of the arts are separated by exactly 30 years, almost coinciding with both Battle Hymns versions release date. Another oddity was the fact that original drummer Donnie Hamzik played on both versions. He really complemented well DeMaio on the original one, using some double bass here and there, but mostly providing a capable backbone for the rest of the instruments. The original mix is almost flawless, and even though Battle Hymns was just the beginning for Manowar and they have more celebrated records, this one’s among the best for me, though not the top one.

Underrated in terms of innovation - 78%

TrooperEd, June 18th, 2018

I always find myself perplexed that Manowar never really get credit as musical innovators. I'll admit that when Martin Popoff and the BangerTV collective try to classify Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and most traditional metal as power metal, it seems like a stretch, but at least Manowar certainly began the dungeons, dragons, swords and sorcery ethos the subgenre would entrench itself in.

There are a couple of issues with Battle Hymns. The tom-toms sound like cardboard, and there is a bit of thematic inconsistency. Two or three songs on here deal with trauma from being a soldier in Vietnam, and volleying between that and "Manowar, born to live forevermore" is slight whiplash. Not to mention that frankly the record stumbles, rather than charges out of the gate with one of Manowar's worst songs: Death Tone. This song is just all around bad, the riffs are average, the lyrics are immaturely schizophrenic, if this song was people's introduction to Manowar then it's no wonder so many people hate the band. It certainly isn't a better ode to bikes than Hell Bent For Leather (or Wheels of Fire for that matter). Battle Hymns should have started with either the band's self-titled song or the way I start it, with Metal Daze.

Of course, one can't discuss Battle Hymns without discussing it's glorious title track. This is simply the greatest 7 minutes of Manowar's near 40 year legacy, with Ross The Boss's finest guitar solo and an absurdly high, almost ridiculous vocal performance from Eric Adams in the song's final verse. But there's something else that doesn't get mentioned enough: the songs tempo. Examining the drumbeat in and of itself, it's a 12 bar blues/Quo boogie, but Joey DeMaio's syncopated bass line against it turns the backbeat into a death march shuffling against a Quo boogie. Never mind the stroke of genius in matching the song's lyrics musically, but this is the earliest example I've seen of a tempo that would become quite commonplace not just in power metal, but black and death metal as well. Immortal (Blashrykh), Brutality, Deicide, Enslaved and tons of other extreme metal acts (more extreme than non-extreme surprisingly) have all used the march of the Battle Hymn has a building block for songwriting. Henceforth, whenever I hear this tempo in a metal song it should be referred to as the Manowar march. Given the genre's reputation for swords and sorcery, you'd think more metal bands would have done this, but the only examples I can think of are Iron Maiden's Quest For Fire and The Prophecy. Of course, those songs a) came after this, and b) aren't exactly considered upper tier tracks from that band anyway.

Aside from that song and Dark Avenger (structurally resembling the song Black Sabbath; slow doom before erupting into a frenzy), the rest of Battle Hymns are standard early 80s slabs of metal. Fast Taker being the most lethal. Production wise, this album might seem like it suffers from usual first album inexperience, but at least you can easily distinguish what's a guitar and what's a bass on this album, unlike the next two records. The guitar tone is a dirty beast, practically taking a page out of the Fast Eddie book, yet not quite frazzling enough as a band just starting out probably can't afford the biggest stack in the store. The raw tone gives these songs especially the edge they need to kill.

Battle Hymns is a solid, if inconsistent 80s power metal sojourn. Whether or not you will become a Manowarrior as a result of it is more dependent on if you considered mixing Conan the Barbarian with Vietnam shell shock the equivalent of putting pineapples on pizza. If you love your 80s metal raw and somewhat produced, you'll dig this.

The eagle has abs - 93%

Psychotic Fates, August 28th, 2012

Ah Manowar, the only heavy metal band in existence at the time this album came out, other than Black Sabbath. This is according to them of course. The irony is that this is as much a rock n roll album as a heavy metal one. There's nothing crushingly heavy about this or anything they've done, despite their claims to the contrary. Like their peers in Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol, they took a few albums into their career to shed their hot rockin' roots.

The first five songs are all rock songs, although they do a bang-up job at writing rock. These are summertime, '70s high-school parking lot songs, especially Metal Daze. Shell Shock has a slightly metallish intro riff and is sort of heavy. The song Manowar, meanwhile, is muscular and has a big, feel-good chorus. If He-Man sang in a rock band this is what it would sound like. Eric Adams sounds so young and vibrant. He comes from the Dio/Dickinson school of vocalists: his strength is in a clear, powerful midrange punctuated by high notes.

Their sound is bass dominated but guitarist Ross the Boss shared equal songwriting credits on this album with Joey Demaio. The man had a positive impact on this band, even though his writing contributions would be scaled back to a song or two per album after this, his solos were always good. Donnie Hamzik meanwhile, is a busier drummer than Scott Columbus.

Dark Avenger is where the band starts to really flex their metallic muscle. A brooding, crushing bass riff drives this song to the narration part, with the guitars complementing instead of dominating the sound. It's different from the conventional rock mentality but adds to the originality of this band. This song ends on a speed metal note with Adams screaming his lungs out and The Boss burning through solos. Williams Tale is the reason this is one of the few Manowar albums that is good right through and that's because this is the one time where they got the bass instrumental right. Every bass solo they did after this is fucking stupid.

Battle Hymn ends the album in the most epic fashion, a fist-pumping anthem that would make even the most pacifist peace-loving hippie want to go to war. It will get you ready for Hyborian Age battle. Robert E. Howard would be proud. The riffs are simple but mighty, the chorus with that ancient background chanting will take you back a thousand years and the solo just rips my head off every time.

Sure, this band would become cheesy and pompous down the road, but in these days they were one-of-a-kind songwriters. I can't really think of anything else to compare this to. Maybe Judas Priest meets Dio meets Kiss, but these guys do their own thing. This is recommended for anyone interested in classic metal. It's got a pump-you-up with good vibes kind of feel to it.

Victory! Victory!

Vanquishing Potion, Volume 1 - 100%

FateMetal, August 11th, 2011

1982: Let's imagine Manowar at this point in their lives:
Bassist and mastermind; Joey DeMaio, 28, desperate to make his mark in the metal world, head swirling with lofty aspirations. Frontman; Eric Adams, also 28, easily spouting Ian Gillan-isms yet hungry to be recognized as a singular vocal talent. Ross "the Boss" Friedman, 28, eager to annihilate yet still very much restrained and Donnie Hamzik, just a hired hand? (He didn't return for "Into Glory Ride" released just eleven months later).
You'll have to pardon my highfalutin-bordering-on-comic sketch of the guys but Manowar have always been prime candidates for the hatchet. And we all know they had lofty ideals-hell, they signed their contract with Liberty Records in blood and have since gone on record as the loudest band.

For all their ambition however, "Battle Hymns" yields to the traditional form of heavy metal and the epic le grand "Dark Avenger" (complete with Orson Welles' cinematic narration) aside, there isn't much variety. And yet this conformity to tradition-delivered so rawly and urgently-is what makes the album such a wow and essential listening.
Joey DeMaio is showy but not overbearing and his lyrics are not lost in a sea of futile speech. The "call to arms" tone and message in "Battle Hymn" still sounds vital to this day as a part of the Manowar Experience while the wit and leery charm of "Fast Taker" cannot be denied by all in possession of a sense of humour.

This is "Vanquishing Metal" at its best. Eric sounds inciting and tireless on every song, forcefully bringing the full intent and meaning behind every word. Although later this would mean his intonation leaves little to the imagination, here it is all grist to the mill. And if you still think it is overdone - I kindly beg you to have a little perspective. After all, this is Manowar's first full on assault.
Ross The Boss does not let himself be overshadowed by Joey in the rhythm department but it is for his fiery leads that he'll be most remembered on this album and Donnie Hamzik does a good job but Scott Columbus (R.I.P) did an even better one on the follow up "Into Glory Ride" where the ideas planted here were fully germinated.

What does "Battle Hymns" mean to us this day? Well, it shows a band accused of excess at their leanest , playing with such heart and such sonic thunder, and with an urgency that would be severely lessened for most of their career. The close they came to playing such vital metal in their post-"Hail To England" days is a few songs on "Warriors Of The World".
But enough with the gloom, here is material tinged with agelessness. An album worth re-discovering .
The guys unwittingly created a masterpiece! Enjoy it for all its intentions and what it truly delivers.

Deserves widespread recognition. - 94%

caspian, May 29th, 2009

Manowar's status as the laughing stock of metal/music is a pretty good example of just how metal is misunderstood by the masses, and indeed, by the fans themselves... So what if there's an album cover or two of them dressed in loincloths? Are those outfits really any stupider then those in Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band? Besides, it's clearly somewhat tongue in cheek. Their lyrics also get some crap, but how are their lyrics any worse than, say, "Here comes the Sun, do do do doo, here comes the sun and I say, It's alright", or, say, "Purple Haze"? Or 99% of rock in general? Or, indeed, the more sophisticated, "urbane" genres like jazz or soul? Manowar are a good band that's got a bad rap for no real reason other than being unashamedly metal; and it's a real shame that they're mocked not just by the "outside", as it were, but by those within the metal community. Which brings us to this album; it's a really, really good bit of heavy metal that would be a common household album if Manowar got the tribute they deserve.

Not being all that familiar with this sort of metal/hard rock it's hard to really spot the influences, a rough guess suggests that it's somewhere between Thin Lizzy, Maiden and Sabbath; certainly the doomy and epic "Dark Avenger" has a lot of love for the last two bands there. It's fast in places and there's plenty of speed metal on offer here but for every heavy, almost thrashing bit like the end of Dark Avenger, there's some straight forward, rocking sort of stuff like "Shell Shock" (which has some pretty rad lyrics) and "Manowar". Normally that sort of stuff would be a real low point for me but here it's catchy as all hell and bursting with energy and vigour; the major key riffing in "Manowar" being particularly catchy and infectious.

The final track of the album in particular is a great example of just untouchable these guys are when they're at their best. Sure, the mellow pre-solo bit is a bit unnecessary, but the intro sets the tone brilliantly, the main riff is transcendent 3/4 battle metal glory; chances are you've heard millions of riffs that sound really, really similar, but none can match the sheer valour and might of this one. And this all before the chorus comes along... damn, is it really possible to make a song as epic, as stirring, as this one? I think not.

Something of Battle Hymn's quality would be an obvious highlight of a typical metal album, here it's just a great way to end a really, really good album. These guys often throw in a few filler tracks here and there throughout their albums; here the only real moment where things go downhill is the (absolutely terrible) bass solo "William's Tale". Whether it's the energetic rock/metal of "Fast Taker" or "Shell Shock", the huge chorus and don't care vibe of "Metal Daze", or the few epics in this album, every song on this is a keeper. Eric's vocals are probably the thing that really makes the songs, particularly the shorter ones; the warts-and-all recording job does a really great job of representing his singing style; surprisingly versatile, very powerful; very passionate. He holds nothing back in his vocals; whether screaming or laying down some tuneful melodies. I'm sure some idiots would label it "melodramatic", I tend to call it "being passionate about your music", which surely isn't a bad thing? Indeed, the whole band is pretty passionate about the music; certainly the drummer's beating the crap out of his kit, while Joey and Ross lay down on the strings with typical Manowar passion and energy.

Manowar deserve celebration far more so then mockery, definitely. No big deal though; if music critics would rather listen to Motown then this then clearly they've got some sort of serious mental illness and there's nothing we can do. Needless to say you seriously need this album if you like good music.

There's No Charge for the Haircut... - 80%

Frankingsteins, September 28th, 2007

Manowar’s debut is widely regarded as a classic of early 80s heavy metal before the spawning of ‘false metal’ glam acts, as well as Manowar’s own increasing movement towards self-parody, robbed the genre of its credibility. That’s not to say that ‘Battle Hymns,’ for all its legacy, is an entirely sombre and sinister affair, featuring the band’s usual ridiculous lyrics on numerous themes from bikes to heavy metal to ancient battles, but sung over music that remains true to the spirit and sound of early, simplistic metal without any of the pompous excess that would later turn the band into a laughing stock.

Collecting most of the songs recorded by the band in the previous two years, ‘Battle Hymns’ is something of a mixed bag with songs heading in often wildly different directions, the earlier pieces tending more towards a party atmosphere in the vein of Kiss, but with more testosterone, and the final three songs experimenting with a more epic sound that had never been attempted before, but has since spawned numerous sub-genres within heavy metal. Eric Adams’ distinctive wail hasn’t reached its full power yet despite a valiant effort to hold notes at the end of many songs, and like many bands’ first releases it’s entertaining to hear how much younger he sounds than on their definitive ‘Kings of Metal.’ Joey DeMaio is the band’s founder, primary song-writer and bass player, and there are no limits to his ego. Not only does DeMaio intersperse most songs with complex and foregrounded bass riffs over the guitars, but the penultimate song is handed over to him entirely as he speeds through the William Tell Overture with no thought for the safety of his fingers or the attention span of the listener, also writing the band’s title song that explains their English origins (DeMaio was a roadie and tech for Black Sabbath, where he ‘heard the call’) and the steps that led to them becoming, clearly, the most powerful force on the planet.

The remainder of the band comprises musicians who would both soon depart, making way for the classic line-up. Ross Funicello’s guitar work is good, but is noticeably weak compared to DeMaio’s bass work, requiring the talents of his later replacement Ross “The Boss” to provide more effective competition. As such, most of the riffs are very simplistic to the point of sounding derivative of other bands, and the guitar solos are nothing spectacular, though the long-forgotten Funicello admirably keeps up to speed on the faster pieces such as ‘Manowar,’ and employs interesting effects in the songs that follow. Scott Columbus’ predecessor on the drum kit is Donnie Hamzik, drafted in from a newspaper advertisement put out by DeMaio and Adams and doing his job as promised, but once again failing to make a lasting impression. There’s nothing here to rival the drums on later songs such as ‘March for Revenge,’ but for the more straightforward songs that dominate this album, Hamzik is essentially required to play fast and hard, and he does so competently.

1. Death Tone
2. Metal Daze
3. Fast Taker
4. Shell Shock
5. Manowar
6. Dark Avenger
7. William’s Tale
8. Battle Hymn

As mentioned earlier, there is a very clear split in this album between the two styles of song, made even more obvious by the original double-sided vinyl than the CD version. Opener ‘Death Tone’ is a fairly fast and energetic song in which the character of a juvenile biker spouts some truly abominable lyrics (‘I give some square the finger,’ etc.), and is very similar both lyrically and musically to ‘Fast Taker,’ the appropriately faster speed of which makes it the more exciting of the two, as well as its more original guitar work. The song between, ‘Metal Daze,’ is the first of oh-so-many anthems dedicated to the glory of heavy metal, and easily my least favourite song on the album due to its unwise and unconvincing chorus chanting. Later live versions are much more credible, as the crowd sings along instead of this stilted-sounding noise, but it’s also incredibly uneventful and dull, especially at this early point. ‘Shell Shock’ is one of the more memorable songs, describing the debilitating after-effects of Vietnam from the perspective of an ex-soldier but also scorning those who escaped the war, represented by the despised ‘businessman at home.’ I’m sure there are several thousand more emotive and worthwhile songs about the Vietnam conflict out there, but with its cool riff, incredibly catchy rhythm and fine chorus, this would still be my favourite. This first, uneven ‘half’ of the album is concluded with the band’s titular song ‘Manowar,’ which strives to be even faster and more full of energy than those that have come before it, and succeeds to some extent. At only three-and-a-half minutes long it feels a little unsatisfying and brief, despite another great chorus, but the band would make sure to record many more testaments to their own greatness over the next twenty-five years and beyond. Excellent.

While the first half of the album effectively offers a slightly rougher and more energetic version of the sound Judas Priest had moved beyond two years previously, it’s the remaining songs of the album (with one very definite exception that is easy to spot) that elevate this record to classic and influential status, beginning the epic sound that the band would embrace more fully on their second album as they began to deal with Viking themes. ‘Dark Avenger’ is a brilliant song of two halves, the first a slow, dark and foreboding bass and guitar instrumental of sorts overlaid with narration from the inimitable diaphragm of Orson Welles. The dialogue is fairly silly and simplistic fantasy pap, detailing the story of the eponymous dark avenger riding up from Hell on his demon horse Black Death, before an escalating ‘woah’ from Eric Adams rises to an ear-splitting scream and the song hits its stride. The final few minutes are back in familiar territory, but with grander aspirations, and some humorously sexist lyrics that the band encourage us to sing along to, not for the last time. The bass instrumental ‘William’s Tale’ then proceeds to waste a couple of minutes in an extremely shoddy sounding display of fast string-plucking to an over-familiar tune, before the album delivers its final and most satisfying punch in the form of the semi-titular ‘Battle Hymn.’ Originally recorded for Manowar’s demo release, this song takes the slow and heavy approach of ‘Dark Avenger’ and mixes in some lighter sections of acoustic guitar and even a very drastic piano break, which ends up sounding a little too out of place and lullaby-like amidst all the death and destruction. It’s one of the purest Manowar classics, and the song that launched a thousand thousand geeky fantasy metal bands.

Manowar’s debut is far from being their strongest album, being beaten very satisfyingly by the next few subsequent releases before the band’s deterioration with their move to a major label towards the end of the decade. It nevertheless remains one of their most enduringly popular, especially among non-hardcore fans who can appreciate its greater simplicity in the era of NWOB(A)HM, the New Wave of British (and American) Heavy Metal, and who would likely find the greater excesses of all their subsequent albums a little off-putting. I enjoy this album for its diversity, but with the far greater things they would produce soon hereafter it’s not an album I often listen to in full, often opting for a quick blast of ‘Dark Avenger’ or ‘Shell Shock,’ two very different songs, one of which will always be ideally suited to my mood at any given time.

Most accessible from Manowar - 89%

danyates, July 5th, 2007

I'm a huge Manowar fan. I love all of their albums. I know how a lot of people feel about Manowar, so this review takes those people into consideration.

People who don't like Manowar can like this album. It's not nearly as "cheesy" as the later works, including lyrics. It's still got the Manowar sound that all Manowar fans love, but it's different in some way. There's a really "young" sound to it, which isn't surprising since this is their debut. It's more straight forward, and less over the top.

The vocals from Eric Adams are top notch, as always. Probably one of the high points of this album. He puts attitude in his vocals, and he's got a really powerful voice. He can hit the low and high notes. His vocals give Manowar part of their distinctive sound, and I think he's great on this album. Very accessible vocals, easy to sing along to, and very FUN to sing along to.

Joey DeMaio, the bassist, and main songwriter, shows on this album. He uses an 8 string bass on some songs (like Battle Hymn), and plays it like a regular guitar, with a pick. He's got some great basslines on here, like on Fast Taker and his solo, William's Tale. He mainly follows the rhythm guitar, but he has some leads and sometimes he stops playing pedal riffs. He adds some of the "power" to Manowar, since his 8 string bass is tuned as a bass with a second string set tuned one octave higher (so it's EeAaDdGg). I've been told the intro to "Battle Hymn" is this bass alone, but I'm not sure on this.

The guitar work is catchy, and the riffs are epic sounding and very memorable. The leads are even more memorable, and I find myself singing along to them every time I listen to this album. None of the guitar work is very technical, and the guitar sounds like it's layered once, so there are two rhythm guitars, and one rhythm guitar during leads. Joey provides rhythm during the leads at some times.

The drumming isn't remarkable. It's just average 1980s heavy metal drumming. Just there to add some power to the music and to keep time. Not much to say here.

Manowar has had an awesome career, and this is the start of it. I started with this album, and I'd advise new fans to do the same. If you're into Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, or any heavy metal or power metal from the 80s, you'll like this album. I don't see why a lot of people hate Manowar, but it's their loss I say.

My favorite tracks are Death Tone, Metal Daze, Fast Taker and Battle Hymn.

Manowar at their best IMO - 90%

Bohemian_moomin, December 17th, 2004

Manowar's debut album, entitled Battle Hymns was first released in 1982, and is easily my favourite Manowar album. It's simple, everything on it works, and it's fucking good fun. Manowar's songwriting is questionable at times but on this album the lyrics work just fine, with tolerable levels of cheesiness.

Death Tone - The first song on the album, after some rather funky motorbike sound effects the guitars kick in, and we are introduced to Manowar. This song is fun, lighthearted and almost tongue in cheek. The lyrics are typical ass-kicking Manowar fare "I give some square the finger, now he won't look again". It is interesting to see the reference to the vietnam war, and the message of the song basically is, while all the pussies stayed at home, Manowar went to fight. Also, the solo on this song really fits with the atmosphere, unlike some Manowar songs where I get the impression the solo has just been taped on for the sake of it.

Metal Daze - This song IMO is pure pop, there is nothing about this song that would stop it being a major mainstream success. The lyrical content here is more consistent with later Manowar songs; Heavy metal, loud as it can be. It has to be said, as I listen to this song, it has a truly great concert which instantly screams "audience participation", and after watching Manowar's performance of the song at Blood in Brazil, it becomes obvious this is the songs strength; 30,000 metalheads screaming "Heavy metal" is something that really has to be heard.

Fast Taker - After the mid tempo of the first two songs, Fast Taker comes as a welcome fast number. It is not as memorable perhaps as the first two, but still features some great riffage and basswork. Lyrical content is similar to Death Tone, the basic message is, Manowar do what they want.

Shell Shock - Again, a song about the Vietnam war. After Fast Taker sped things up, Shell Shock slows them down again. This is perhaps the weakest song on the album (Not counting William's Tale) but still good fun and much better to some of the songs on Manowar's other albums.

Manowar - Ah, this is more like it. As a song named after the band, it does exactly what you would expect it to do - tell the listener a bit about the band, and it does just this. The verses talk about how the band met, and how they decided they were going to play, and the chorus "Manowar, born to live forever" is basically a message to all that Manowar has arrived on the scene and are here to stay, an accurate prediction, cos they're making another album right now. Another of my favourite parts of this song is the ending. Long and self-indulgent. Heavy fucking metal.

Dark Avenger - The album is definitely picking up here, with this doomy gloomy epic, hinting perhaps at the direction the band were going to take on widely acclaimed follow up Into Glory Ride. The first section tells the story of a man committing some sort of crime against his leaders, and being left to die. At about 2:36 the song changes completely, and the narration of legendary actor Orson Welles kicks in. Listeners at this point may well be wondering, "What the fuck is Orson Welles doing on a Manowar album???" well to answer the question, in Manowar's early days, they were admired by Orson, as their struggle to find fame apparently mirrorred his own and he identified with them because of this. Anyway, after a grim minute of narration, the typical cheesiness given an uncharacteristic gravity thanks to Welles, the song truly kicks in. After the line "The pounding of his hooves, did clap, like thunder" Eric Adams launches into the best scream he has ever done in his career. The last, fast section of the song describes the Dark Avenger himself taking revenge upon the society which cast him out. And as many others will tell you, it fucking owns. "In blood I take my payment, in full, with their lives" oh fucking yes. I love the momentum on this song, despite being an epic, it never drags for a second and I love the way the slow first section acts as a counterpoint to the kickass riffage of the last. A true Manowar classic...

William's Tale - ...and then they go and ruin their momentum with this 1:54 wankfest. I'm told it's some sort of classical piece played on a bass, however there is nothing about this that does not cry out "Skip button". I have never understood why Manowar do this on almost every album, but ah well, I suppose you've gotta take the rough with the smooth. Warlord should be here instead of this, it didn't fit on IGR and William's Tale is just pointless. Thankfully...

Battle Hymn - The greatest Manowar song of all time is next. Battle Hymn is Manowar's most powerful, most epic, and most inspiring masterpiece to date. After an introduction which sends shivers down my spine, Donny Hamzik's drum fill leads into a glorious slow galloping riff. The lyrics are Manowar. That's the only way to describe them. Eric Adams gives a sublime vocal performance on this song, for instance I love the way he sticks to the music in the first verse, and in the second verse bends his notes and throws his voice around more; the song seems to gain more momentum every second. This peaks with the second chorus "Victory! Victory!" after which we see the first in a very, very long history of Manowar habits - the cheesy interlude. However, I must admit I actually quite enjoy this one. Given the light hearted nature of most of the previous songs this particular interlude just makes me laugh. The lyrics are silly, very silly, but it never drags. After another drum fill from Hamzik, the song kicks off again with another scream from Adams, then it's back to "Kill! Kill!" before the final verse is sung a full octave higher by Adams. His voice here is fucking amazing, unlike power metal singers with clean eunuch screams he howls with attitude and just fucking owns almost every other singer out there. The song, and subsequently the album, ends with a trademark massive ending, which just fits perfectly.

In conclusion - Manowar's best album. IGR might be more epic, Hail to england might be heavier, but everything on this album is true fucking quality. The songwriting is never forced or too cheesy, the songs themselves are solid, the synergy between the musicians is just fine, the production is balls but hey this is 1982, and it's got fucking Orson Welles on it!! Kill!

Epic Classic - 90%

Lord_Elden, November 8th, 2004

As everyone else already said, the album is divided into two parts, the five first songs and the the three last.

The first part is typical metal ranging from decent (Manowar) to good (Metal Daze), the songs Death Tone, Fast Taker and Shell Shock are okay but certainly nothing special. The lyrics to these songs are decent (few bands have good lyrics), the riffs are good and the vocals are great. The songs are too similar in structure though, it wouldn't have heart if there been a slower song among those, or anything that would have given a bit more variation. Well, these songs aren't the reason I listen to this album.

The last three tracks are superb on the other hand. Well, William's Tale isn't quite a song, it's a bass solo showing the bassist's perfected skills. Much better than Metallica's (Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth. And it fits in perfectly between the songs Dark Avenger and Battle Hymn, which are among the best Epic Metal songs ever written.
Dark Avenger consists of three parts, it starts slowly, the first part wouldn't be misplaced in a Doom Metal album. Second part is the narration by Orson Wells, it fits in perfectly. And the last part is the faster part with great riffs and a superb vocal performance. And I haven't even mentioned the vocals. An epic classic!
Battle Hymn, this is a musical orgasm, the epitome of Epic Metal: perfect guitar intro, superb vocals, awesome slow middle part and killing lyrics. The created atmosphere is immense. Manowar's best song and one of the best songs ever!

The high score is mostly based on the three last tracks, those tracks are the reason I bought this album. The score would've been higher if there had been more epic tracks. One of the best debuts ever. With this record Manowar into glory rode.

Raping the Daughters and the Wives… - 90%

Reaper, August 6th, 2004

This is what Manowar should sound like. Singing about Metal in every single song may get a bit repetitive, no matter how good the songs are. Battle Hymn still holds true to the “Heavy Metal or no Metal at all” tradition of Manowar, but it also offers exciting songs that don’t necessarily deal with Metal. “Death Tone,” which is a song about going to war while the other pussy hippies stay at home, is a great representation of what Manowar started of as, and should have stayed throughout their careers. Fun, stimulating, sing-along-to are all examples of the greatness that is this album.

“Metal Daze,” the song that probably everyone knows, and sounds likes the self-proclaimed Metal anthem, is one of the best songs on the album. Singing “Heavy Metal, Metal Daze, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal Daaaaazze” over and over again send chills of electrifying power through your body, sort of speak. This is a very fun album, which does not contain as much of the “cheese” factor as the later Manowar albums have.

Songs like “Fast Taker,” “Death Tone” and “Shell Shock” are all fast-bang-your-head-to-tracks that are not about the glory of Metal, which, in all honesty, is a good thing. These alterations in a Manowar album are welcome changes that only improve the quality of the album. This first album by Manowar has a much higher replay value than the albums that would follow because of the three songs that I have mentioned. Sure, singing about Metal is great, and it’s awesome to sing along to, but it shouldn’t be overdone.

The song “Manowar” is a bit weaker compared to the other tracks. It still is well written, and offers a similar punch as the other tracks, but I expected a tad more from a song titled after the band. No big deal, as it does add variation to the album, and is well positioned in the track listing. The track that follows is the epic song “Dark Avenger” with narration by non other than the great Orson Wells. A great story of Greek mythology, I believe, tells of a dark avenger, that stands against the elders and rebels. The song begins with singing vocals, with simple melody in the background. At about two minutes and 30 seconds Orson Wells narrates the story, which is the introduction to the exhilarating-bang-your-fucking-head-to-throw-the-horns-rape-the-daughters-and-the-wives part of the song.

“Burning, death, destruction raping the daughters and wives
In blood I take my payment in full with their lives .”

Lyrics that are very memorable, and music that makes your ear drums bleed. Great guitar and drum work and amazing vocals that kill posers without even trying.

“William’s Tale,” is the track that most other Manowar albums have. It’s the track that doesn’t really belong there and should have been deleted. Of course it’s not “Nassun Dorma” of Warriors of the World, because it is much better than that. “William’s Tale” is basically a guitar instrumental rendition of the famous melody. It is very well played, therefore I can’t complain that much, as it is certainly not another “Nassun Dorma” but it still isn’t up to par with the rest of the album.

The last track, which is also the title track, is a familiar song to the later Manowar songs. It is basically a “We’re all united and fighting for Metal” type of song. It may be a bit cheesy but it does have great sing-along-to lyrics and therefore is a great finish to a great album. The instrumental parts, even the simple guitar parts at the beginning are all exceptional. Not so much in technicality, but in composition style and overall fitting melody to the “Metal anthem.” This song is one of the highlights of the album, and well deserving the praise. Manowar will later be known for such songs, but surely not in this caliber. “Battle Hymn” is a most excellent ending to one of the greatest Manowar albums.

Manowar is known for their “cheesy” songs, but make no mistake, Battle Hymn is not the album that gave people that impression. Filled with amazingly fun and headbanging songs, Battle Hymn should be in every Manowar fan’s collection. Others, who don’t necessarily like Manowar should also give this a well deserved listen, as it is not your typical Manowar album.

Classic "rock and roll"... - 85%

Snxke, July 3rd, 2004

Say what you will about the metal in-joke that Manowar have become but this first record is a classic slab of tough-guy rock and roll that without the image and tacky interview bits should stand alone as a benefit to heavy metal. The production is a little lame (though much better on the re-master), but who can deny such talented riffcraft and emotional vocalizing? (This is before Eric Adams became a parody of the genre entirely you know...) Not I, sayeth the Von.

Songs like "Death Tone", "Battle Hymn" and and "Metal Daze" all stomp and claw with a rock and roll menace all of thier own. The riffs rule, the vocals are passionate and if you ignore the lyrics this stands out as much as any important early-1980's heavy metal record. "I WENT TO THE BIG HOUSE YOU JUST WORK A JOB!!!!!!" Yep...sing it Erik. I am hardly traditional Manowarrior I think the song "Dark Avenger" kinda sucks...but when these boys rock out...they ROCK OUT.

"Battle Hymns" is a classic release for ANY band and Manowar did the right thing at the right time in writing/releasing this music to the world. Say what you will about the band now, but on their first four cheesy-yet-brilliant records these guys actually WERE the "kings of metal" in their own inconceivable way.

"Hail & Kill" ya silly bastards.

Excellent debut for the "Kings" - 86%

Sinner, February 8th, 2003

The first Manowar album proves to be quite the debut for the self-acclaimed "Kings Of Metal" - not yet dealing as much with the over-the-top image as would happen in years to come and concentrating more on the song-writing and music itself.

Like said in another review - the album is basically split in half - although instead of taking the "first five" songs - i'd rather do a 4 - 4 - the first four being decent rock ' roll tunes (with "Metal Daze" and "Fast Taker" being the highlights - the first a catchy "heavy metal anthem" like the band would produce so many more of in the future (and probably a couple TOO many eventually), the second an excellent, speedy rocker).

The second half though is where it gets "really classic" - beginning with the anthem which would and will remain in the setlist forever - the band's namesake "Manowar", going into the excellent and atmospheric "Dark Avenger" (with a spoken interlude by Orson Welles) then the "song" which everyone usually tries to ignore (the obligatory bass solo) and finishing off with THE Manowar classic of all-time - the immortal and earth-shattering "Battle Hymn" - a true metal classic if there ever was one - and featuring one of Adam's most impressive vocal parts to date.

This album (and especially the second half) is what would define Manowar in years to come - sometimes epic, melodic, very powerfull metal - mainly carried by Eric Adams's vocals (to date being my favourite ever metal shouter) and Demaio's solid bass-work.

Definitely worth the money you pay - and a great introduction to a superb band.

The least pretentious Manowar album - 76%

UltraBoris, August 24th, 2002

This is Manowar before they got all epic and tr00 on us - it's still there, but there are some great songs that actually lack the overwhelming pretentiousness that would scar their latest albums, and - simply because they didn't try so damn hard to be otherwise - come off as pretty solid and well-written.

Note: I do not have the remastered version. I am going on the original, which has a slightly rock and rollish vibe to it, both in songwriting and in the guitar tone. The album can be pretty much divided into two parts: the first five songs, and the last three.

The first five are pretty straightforward heavy metal songs, that would not be out of place on a "Killing Machine" or a "Breaker". Of these, "Shell Shock" is probably the weakest, due to the generally uninspired chorus. "Manowar" is probably the best - it's pretty typical heavy metal, with some really catchy and well-defined riffs, something that Manowar would not be all that consistent in in the future.

Then, the second half of the album, which is interesting, in that they go for a more epic power metal idea. They start Dark Avenger with the first of many, many spoken parts that they would have. The song itself is very nicely done power metal - probably the best song on here. All the riffs work, and the soloing is tasteful and effective, without any excess wankery that would mark some of their later epic efforts. "William's Tale" is the obligatory bass solo - very nice, as it's the William Tell Overture which of course can do no wrong.

The last song is "Battle Hymn", which also rules quite muchly - another epic metal song, with a well done chorus, and in general well-placed melodies.

The strongest suit of the album is that the songwriting just plain works - there is nothing forced about it, and no silly ideas are thrown in just because they seem like a good idea at the time. It's a very solid album, and well worth getting.