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Fighting the FM Radio. - 85%

hells_unicorn, February 26th, 2008

Many argue that this is one of Manowar’s weaker offerings due to an overly commercial approach to their, at this time, solidified formula. However, the truth is that there isn’t much on here that is more commercial than what can be heard on “Battle Hymns” or the follow-up “Kings of Metal”. It’s the same original blend of epic, rock, and cheese that has always made the band one of my preferred metal flavors. My only real gripe about the album is that it’s too damn short.

There is a strong sense of catchy arena oriented rock mixed into the first three songs which give an impression of a mainstream 80s effort. They all feature simplistic melodies and straightforward musical ideas, particularly the use of backup singer chants that give an atmosphere of a giant stadium singing along with Eric Adams as he belts out some of the most obnoxiously high notes heard out of a singer with his testosterone level. Even the acoustic intro of “Carry On” has a largeness to it that typifies the spirit of Manowar’s sound.

If you judged this album by only the first 3 songs then the assertion that it is a collection of radio singles might hold up, but after wards things go back to the usual mix of true metal ingredients. “Violence and Bloodshed” was likely what earned this album its Parental Advisory label, steeped with aggressive lyrics and good old fashioned Manowar style chunky speed metal. “Defender” is the album’s epic number, complete with a guest narration slot by stage and screen veteran Orson Welles and all of the usual grandiose themes that made the “Battle Hymns” album title track a standard in the metal world.

The second half of this album’s format is quite deceptive, as it lists and is organized into 4 songs (2 short, 2 full length), but essentially listens as 2 epic speed metal tracks with elongated intros. In the case of “Black Wind, Fire and Steel”, which is rightly hailed by many as the greatest song on here, the theme of “Master of Revenge” actually recurs at the end after a veritable mountain of free timed guitar noise and feedback. Although Manowar has had many moments of sheer genius in their lengthy career, the final 2 tracks on here actually outdo the finer moments on what would otherwise be superior albums. It has the flash and flair of “Blood of the Kings” and the riff driven aggression of “Wheels of Fire”.

The general truth about Manowar is that with one or two small exceptions, when you purchase one of their albums you get a quality product with all the barbaric fury of a thousand berserkers fresh off the dragon boats. Their physical bodies may have been conceived in New York, but their souls sprang from the very gates of Valhalla. “Fighting the World” is a highly recommended addition to the collection of any 80s metal fan, especially a Manowar fan who prefers the era when Ross the Boss was tearing up the fret board, although this is probably one of their lower rated albums due to a strong collection of radio friendly rockers. But for all of you radio haters out there, remember, every Viking has to leap from his boat and stand on the same ground as everyone else in order to achieve conquest.