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An Acquired Taste, But Still... - 90%

corviderrant, April 7th, 2004

I can see why some of the more impatient sorts out there got bored with "Achilles, Agony And Ecstasy in 8 Parts", but it makes a great album starter in my opinion. It features everything that makes Manowar great: outstanding vocals ranging from clean to scream from Eric Adams, jaw-dropping musicianship, blisteringly heavy riffing and dynamics to the max, it's all good here. Rhino earns his nickname with an amazing drum solo that builds from quiet cymbal tickling to full-on double kick massacre and an amazing ambient drum sound that took some getting used to, as I thought he was triggered at first. Joey, naturally, gets his solo space and impresses as always, as does David Shankle, a more technically advanced player than Ross, if not with quite as much character as Ross had. I actually really like this piece, and it took guts for Manowar to do what their muse called them to do. They have my respect anyway, and this tune cements that.

The rest of the album follows suit with a series of the usual metal anthems they are best at, like "Metal Warriors (Brothers of Metal Pt. II)", fantasy-based lyrics like "Ride The Dragon" (AWESOME bass work in this, including what I am certain is the only instance of a bassist using a talk box in the intro and ending for a chilling series of dragon roars and snarls) and "The Demon's Whip", more diversified lyrical content like "Spirit Horse of the Cherokee" (another nice intro with American Indian language dialogue over Eric's menacing spoken word part, and you gotta admire a white guy like Joey writing pro-Indian lyrics and respecting them as the strong fighters that they were), and "Master of the Wind" ends things with an emotional appeal to follow your dreams as only they can pen. I give Manowar credit for always trying to give their fans a positive message in some of their songs, and this is one of the reasons I respect them as I do. I really like this album, and I wish people would give it more of a chance.