MANOWAR - TRUE AND FALSE METAL

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MANOWAR TRUE AND FALSE METAL


This time we are here not talking about a band but a real entity, a reality in some ways unique that has been many things, more than what it currently flaunts in the press releases and in the latest shows (recently more and more focused on the leader/master Joey DeMaio and his proclamations in favor of true metal and true Manowar). Yet these gentlemen, between a "hail and kill" and a "show your tits", have written pages of iron and fire in the history of heavy metal and have released a not indifferent series of masterpieces, before a certain mood took over, but one thing at a time...

Let's go!


BATTLE HYMN (1982)
In spite of the title (and a controversial cover with an imperial eagle in the foreground), the debut of the American band falls, at least in the first half, in the stylistic canons of classic heavy metal with rocky riffs and immediate refrains: "Death Tone "," Metal Daze "," Fast Taker "are real anthems and a source of inspiration for many bands, even extreme ones (see the Overkill and Tankard covers). Already with the song "Manowar", the future concert opener of the band, a certain epic vein begins to emerge, then accentuated in the obscure "Dark Avenger" (with a lot of talk by Orson Welles). And if "William Tale" is a rather nice reinterpretation on the bass of the famous Rossinian "Guglielmo Tell", the long title track exudes combative epicity from every pore. A class start, marred by a rough production but still preferable to the hyperplastic sounds of the latest productions...



INTO GLORY RIDE (1983)
Cover as iconic as it is horrid for a work of absolute class, with a very accentuated epic-viking component: if in fact the splendid opener "Warlord", with excited female screams (and angry parents), is a classic mincer in metal sauce, the following "Secret of Steel", "Gates of Valhalla", "Hatred" and the final "Revelation" and "March for Revenge" are true masterpieces of Viking art. 
Dark, epic and powerful, a true classic.



HAIL TO ENGLAND (1984)
Heroically comic cover for a work that denotes great stylistic maturity. The voice of Eric Adams, purebred singer, reaches extraordinary heights already from the anthemic opener "Blood of my Enemies" as well as in the combative "Each Dawn I Die", while the title track, the solemn "Army of Immortals" and the obscure "Bridge of Death" offer epicness and power. The violent "Kill With Power" inaugurates the genre of concert anthems... in fact, the live version is definitely better.



SIGN OF THE HAMMER (1984)
Same ingredients as previous works, same high quality. Hard as a punch in the teeth "All Man Play On Ten", epic the title track and "Thor", sublime the mighty "Mountains" and the dark "Guyana". A record that consolidates a winning formula and demonstrates the great class of the band.
Last work of the first life of Manowar, before their "progressive" turn, as we will see very soon.



FIGHTING THE WORLD (1987)
Already the cover, slightly inspired by KISS, makes us understand that something is changing: the album has a more radio sound and the same is true for most of the tracklist, as shown by the initial triad "title-track - Blow Your Speaker - Carry On" or the very fast closing "Black Wind Fire And Steel". The real jewel, at least for me, however, remains "Defender", an epic song, at times bluesy, with the participation once again of Orson Welles, solemn in speech as well as moving in the refrain, a true work of art in a record that, anyway, it gives a lot of fun.



KINGS OF METAL (1988)
There are so many things to say here, so let's arm ourselves with patience.
It is perhaps the best work of Manowar, and it is a real container of classics: the violent motorcycle "Wheels of Fire", the self-congratulatory "Kings of Metal", the unleashed "Hail And Kill" are real concert mines. From tears the ballad "Heart of Steel" as epic as "The Crown and the Ring" (used as a recorded outro for concerts), while the conclusion narrated with the bedtime story (I'm not kidding) "The Warriors Prayer" turns out to be rather tacky. "hooked to the violent" "Blood of the Kings".
In recent times a song like "Pleasure Slave" (read the lyrics then we'll talk about it) would not even have come out of the score, here they pass it off as a bonus track... oh well ...
The faceless warrior makes his appearance for the first time on the cover (ideal representation of any Manowar fan... I have never had such a body, anyway...).



THE TRIUMPH OF STEEL (1992)
My first Manowar is perhaps the most "progressive" album of the band, although a similar definition applies to this group. Splendid cover and mega-suite dedicated to the Iliad at the beginning: "Achilles Agony and ecstasy in eight parts" is a true concentration of epicness, wickedness and magic (how not to be moved by the funeral march for Patroclus, for example). Soon after, the new concert anthem, "Metal Warriors" gives us a scary Adams vocal proof. Other peaks are the tribal "Spirit Horse of the Cherokee", the power "The Power of My Sword", the evil "Demons Whip" and the spectacular wonderful ballad "Master of the Wind". There are no flaws in this work... ok, the five minutes of "Burning" perhaps could have been avoided, but it's still the last great work of the band, and one of my absolute favorites.



LOUDER THAN HELL (1996)
Change of gear and return to more streamlined and classic compositions for a work where the element of surprise is hidden. There is no shortage of songs that will make the fortune of the group's performances, including the revival "Return of the Warlord" and the classic "Kings" and "The Gods Made Heavy Metal"; not to miss the ballad of the moment, the excellent "Courage". A lot of work, a few flashes, but the fun is there.



WARRIORS OF THE WORLD (2002)
Released in the aftermath of September 11th, this work exudes patriotism from the cover with the American flag in the foreground. If the martial "Call to arms" at the beginning seems to portend the best immediately we have a setback, the beautiful ballad "Fight For Freedom", rather soon for a Manowar record, but there is. The problem is that immediately after we find a cover, "Nessun Dorma", yes, that one: after having played that at the Gods of Metal we find it also on record. While waiting for the waters to move we find a tiny interlude before... another sort of ballad, the Viking (in the theme) "Sword Into The Wind", very pretty, but in short, when do we decide to press the accelerator? And what's next? Another cover!!!  "An American Trilogy", a medley of blues songs directly from the cotton plantations and brought to success by Elvis Presley... but then, what's going on???
After a Wagnerian instrumental and with ill-disposed auditory gonads we finally arrive at something more canonical... and extravagant: the single "Warriors of the World United" is perhaps the last great piece made by these gentlemen, as semic as it is incisive as mid-tempo, effective refrain for a piece that sticks in the head and remains a pleasure. From here our songs start again with a series of more fired songs, however ordinary: "Hands of Doom", "House of Death" and the most successful "Fight Until We Die". An album too fluctuating but with still something to say.



GODS OF WAR (2007)
Manowar and the concept albums! Some considerations:
1) Concept album: what are we talking about? Manowar in their songs uses the same 50 words randomly mixed, how can they deal with a concept album? And in fact the songs have more or less the same words.
2) Booklet: keeping silent on the cover, many compliments to the nice idea of ​​writing everything in the runic alphabet, complete with a microscopic legend...
3) The record: let's get to the point, 15 songs, high-sounding titles. But don't worry, a good half is made up of instrumental or recited interludes, as useful as a radiator in the Sahara, tacky pomposity that has nothing to do with a metal album. What about the other songs ?! They would not be bad either, apart from the usual lyric problems, "King of Kings" it's a pleasure to listen to, "Sleipnir", the single "Sons of Odin" is pleasant and same for the title track. The problem it is what we would never have expected from Manowars: prolixity. All the pieces are in fact weighed down by orchestrations, interminable introductions and assorted amenities. Everything is resolved in great heaviness and difficulty of listening, not exactly what I am looking for in a metal album... and speaking of metal, how to insert a song on the subject in a concept album with a Nordic divinity theme? But putting it as a bonus track, "Die For Metal", with the chorus taken directly from the chorus... of the Marines.



LORD OF STEEL (2012)
This, I confess, I have not even bought it, I have listened to it several times in an attempt to convince myself to buy it but nothing happened. This is yet another change of gear, but this time with a few unsettling ideas that already oozes from the titles, "Manowarriors", "Hail Kill and Die" to name a couple. Hyper-compressed sounds, an exploding production of discerns, the only Adams, apart from the limits of advancing age, to carry on a circus more and more tired... and even my ears are tired... very tired. It's no longer even on the market: flop, distraction, or belated repentance?

APPENDIX
The Manowar discography is also made up of some EPs, the first "Dawn of the Battle" with two pleasant unreleased tracks (among these "I Believe" stands out, not bad), then "Thunder in the Sky", a forerunner of what should have been a saga dedicated to Asgard - later archived - and a second cd with the same song ("Father") in ten thousand different languages, a job that is neither good nor bad, inconsistent, the same perfect adjective for the last published EP, "The Final Battle I", the first of a series of publications that should lead the band towards the farewell tour...
I will not waste words instead for grim operations irritating to me as resounded classic albums, which unfortunately happened to "Battle Hymn" and "Kings Of Metal", not to mention the two hundred DVDs regularly released on the market.

This is my overview of a musical reality that has given me so much and to which I owe so much, a journey made of joy, battles and pain, love and hate, the story of a band that, despite having lost the right path behind thousands of publications, has left behind a beautiful trail of immortal works.

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