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Once more has both the good and the bad - 70%

Wez, November 7th, 2004

Right, okey, this is Manowar, which usually indicates we're in for a bumpy ride. Or at least I am, there seem to be overwhelming amounts of reviews by those who have been taken over by their evil spell and are positively ejaculating over the band whilst typing their reviews. Therefore making the keys "s", "u", "c" and "k" so stuck down that it is practically impossible for them to actually tell the truth concerning the band...

...I jest (in part), for Manowar can really pull it off to almost perfection at times, and this album certainly does have its strong moments. Eric Adams is again wailing his battle cries out with pride and passion, which is something I can't fault him for really. He still has a unique set of pipes which don't really bring to mind anybody else and are instantly identifiable. This album also gives Ross the Boss the chance to indulge more and lead guitar is given a better workout than on the previous album of the same year, Hail to England. While that album has more of a firmly consistent feel to it, opting for the straight up headbanging anthems, this one jumps around and tries to pull off more epic atmospheric pieces, and occassionally the riffs seem get lost in the mix. The title track is a good example of the effects of that, while a decent song, it's not a match for the mighty pillars to each side of it. The first two songs are really the throwaway ones for me, though while "All Men Play on Ten" has its sing-a-long vibe and a monster of a chorus, it isn't one of Manowar's best odes to the greatness of metal, Kings of Metal far surpasses it. "Animals" is a dirty rocker that seems to fail to make much of an impression despite some attempt to get back my attention with a blistering solo.

Then with "Thor (The Powerhead)" things really get cooking and we get a majestic, over the top song that I would think of what Manowar should be doing. But sadly, what this band is capable of and what they actually turn out with are two entirely different things, which is why I'm not crazily headbanging along to every second of this disc! But "Mountains" comes in and continues on the quality of the last track, but tries to build up the mood to boiling point. There's plenty going on here, but the heavy headbanging riffs are a bit scarcer and the atmospheric clean guitars and bass lead it on for most of the way. But it definitely creates that great sense of power and all the pieces fit well together. I defy anyone not to raise their fist proudly when Eric screams out "I have no fear!!!" Now moving past the already examined title track which kind of seems to work but the production makes the riffs disappear a bit, and onto another winner "The Oath". This is basically back to the anthemic Manowar of "Thor...", music to ride into battle by, with some incredibly untamed leads topped all off with in fine style with another bombastic chorus. These songs aren't necessarily the greatest heavy metal has to offer, but they are nice to hear from the often inconsistent Manowar, and are solidly written and played with buckets full of passion and conviction. Which is what I can give these songs the most credit for, even if they are lacking in some departments.

Blah, in we come with the most pointless bit of the album, the obligatory bass solo. "Thunderpick" is another three minutes of bass wankery, which is probably wholey unnecessary with zero direction. Skip it, because the best bit is yet to come. Guyana (Cult of the Damned) basically takes all the better ideas from the album and sticks them all together to make up the album's second "big epic". Starting off with the clean and acoustic guitars along with the bass leading onwards with a more subdued less pronounced and over the top way than usual. It then as is expected explodes into the album's best riffs and sense of where it's going. Although I think the chorus is overplayed a bit, it still does a good job of humbling pretty much all the other songs here. While this is no Hail to England, they still get things right enough to warrant some good amount of interest and will be another good slab of Manowar for fans of the band. Unfortunately containing some definite throwaways and a bit of a weak and at other times odd production that holds it down.