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The failure, OF STEEL - 30%

caspian, July 15th, 2016

Being fairly sympathetic to Manowar and all that, I came in with fairly high expectations of this album; Warriors of the World had some really great tunes and I saw no real reason as to why anything would be terribly different here. Maybe less of the vision and youthful excitement the early albums had, perhaps, but with great vocals and engaging enough instrument work to keep things ticking over. Now I could quite easily close this review with a WRONG, THIS IS JUST BAD HARD ROCK, and that would be perfectly adequate, but I guess I oughta do some description, so here goes.

Let's examine the hard rock first. Now, I'm not one who's particularly qualified on the fine line between heavy metal and hard rock, but I think one fairly good notifier (in many, but not all cases!) is the way the guitar goes about it's thing. There's exceptions, of course, but whereas, say, For Whom the Bell Tolls, or Hail and Kill have riffs, this album has chord progressions. Sure, they're heavily distorted, but the fact remains this album has as many riffs as Bon Jovi. Devoid of interesting little motifs that heavy metal tends to have, the guitars are reduced to an utterly subservient role- chugging along in support of the vocals, with a fairly weak, thin tone and nothing else. There's just some real irony to the idea that an album with 3 songs all about heavy metal is not infact heavy metal.

And now onto the bad. Well, simple hard rock isn't a bad thing- I'm right into acca dacca, and have no real problem with competent rockin stuff from earlier times. But here's not a good example of how to do it. The songs tend to sound extremely similar; mid tempo plodders with an often underwhelming chorus, same structures, trite lyrics, no real excitement, just a bad movie soundtrack that plays when some dudes ride by on bikes, sorry, horses of steel. I would tend to compare it to Back in Black, which for all it's simplicity changed things up enough throughout songs to keep you engaged- thrilled, even. Not so here. Power, Warlord, Brothers of Metal, Gods made- well, the last tune has a pretty ripping chorus but there's nothing else to really seperate those tunes. It's kinda a bummer that the one track where something genuinely different is tried- A good day to die- quickly loses steam and becomes a very boring, very long instrumental, where a bit of ambition and focus could've seen some vocals and riffs added, and a heavy metal epic born.

Yeah, I just have no idea why anyone would be into this. It's very similar to a lot of other Manowar, just nowhere near as good. "Steel" and "metal" consist of perhaps 99% of the lyrics. There's no riffs. Adams sounds far more inspired elsewhere. There's a few elements- the production, the vocals, where things could be described as "competent" but the rest is just super painful.