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A failure of monumental proportions - 30%

Emerald_Sword, March 15th, 2007

I'm always hopeful when Manowar is going to release a new album. I wouldn't call them one of my favorite bands, but they just keep putting out way above average heavy metal albums with a few absolute killers ("Call to Arms" from their previous album, for example) regardless of current trends. Their single was overall enjoyable and when I heard that "Gods of War" was going to be a concept album about Norse mythology, I was very interested. It was obvious to me that these old metal warriors still had it and that the new album had the potential to be a real monster. But as my score suggests, Manowar has failed me. In fact, this just might be the biggest metal related disappointment I have ever experienced!

Let's start with the good things about this album: the production leaves nothing to be desired. Without a doubt this is the most polished production they've ever had. It would ruin their older albums, but it fits this more epic direction perfectly. The sound is crystal clear, the guitars are heavy as usual, the drum sound is powerful and the orchestrations are very well done. To sum it up, the production is pretty much perfect.
The production allows Eric Adams to deliver one of his best vocal performances ever. It's mindboggling how a middle-aged man who have been screaming his vocal chords out for more than 25 years still can sound this good. His mid-range is powerful and convincing and he can still go impressively high.
Finally, the real metal songs on here aren't that bad. Opener "King of Kings" has a driving beat and a classic Manowar-style sing-along chorus. "Sleipnir" is probably the best song on here, despite the fact that it start with one minute of narrations. It's quite similar to "King of Kings", but a little better in just about every way. Especially the chorus is awesome. "Loki God of Fire" is another good song with some of the best and heaviest riffs on the album. Loki was not the god of fire, but I'm not geeky enough to take off points for that.

What about the bad things then? Well, there's one thing about this album that drags it down from a decent Manowar album to a disaster all by itself. Every other review of this album has mentioned it, but let's clear things up: This album has more fucking narrations and orchestral interludes than Rhapsody’s entire discography!!! Not to mention that the narrator rivals Jay "Oh no...Oh God no" Landsford (Rhapsody's narrator on their first albums)in the cheesiness department. The almost 5 minute long narrative piece "Glory Majesty Unity" just might be the most embarrasing thing I have ever heard on a metal album. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this album contains more than 30 minutes of narrations and orchestral pieces with some choral singing thrown in here and there. Some of them are quite well done, but it's just faar too much!! The question "What the hell were they thinking?" popped up in my head severel times when I listened to this album.

This is made even worse by the track listing, which is EVEN worse than on "Warriors of the World"! The three best songs are placed in the beginning, and the last 50 minutes of the album ranges between decent and insufferable. During a few parts of the album, I was fighting a strong urge to simply hit the stop button.

Another thing that really struck me while listening to this album was the musicianship, or lack thereof. Sure, Manowar were never about showing off, but the guitar playing on this album sounds uninspired as all hell. "King of Kings", Sleipnir" and "Loki God of Fire" are the only songs with memorable guitar work.
The drums are even worse. How on Earth could Scott Columbus accept this? the drum work on this album consists either of mid-paced double bassing or simple beats that I could probably pull off. The great drum sound just makes this fact even more obvious. Lame with a capital L.

Apart from the three good songs I mentioned before, the other songs are Manowar on autopilot with the "Epic" setting set to 11. Both "Sons of Odin" and the title track are decent songs marred by uninspired guitar playing and some unneccesary choirs and/or orchestral interludes. And let's not forget the absolutely dreadful "Blood Brothers". It's not about two gay lovers (I hope none of you took that comment seriously) but it's boring beyond words, it tries to be uplifting but ends up being rather depressing just because it's so damn bad. One of Manowar's worst songs ever.

My theory is that somewhere during the tour with Rhapsody, Manowar caught the same flu that made those italians release the too-epic-for-it's-own-good "Triumph or Agony". That flu is yet to be named, but the most obvious symptom is that the infected band suddenly feels a burning urge to write some really epic music, even if it make them lose all the inspiration and intensity that made them a good band in the first place. It didn't work for Rhapsody and it really doesn't work for Manowar!

The last song is a "bonus track" just because it doesn't fit in the concept of the album. It's one of those ridiculously over-the-top "Hail metal!!" songs Manowar are famous for, but it's definitely not one of the best, and after sitting through more than one hour of cheesiness and stupidity, you are hit in the face by a chunk of mozarella the size of Asgard! Then finally the album is over, and it feels like half a day has passed since you put it in your CD player.

By Odin, I can barely believe that I see the Manowar logo on the (ridiculous even by Manowar standards) cover art. Except for 2-3 songs this album is more or less total crap. I can totally see the guys from Wizard or Majesty trying really hard to keep their faces straight while listening to this album. I'm simply baffled! How the FUCK did the "Kings of Metal" release this???