THE LORD OF STEEL
I'm sure Manowar had to make this album. I'm sure the Magic Circle of Manowarriors expected it. Just like Kiss keeps putting out records that pander to the "character" the band created, so too does Manowar need to create a record steeped in the tricks and turns of its back catalog.
That's the only reason I can gather that guys looking at 60 are still compelled to write material like this.
To my ears, the band sounds a bit like a middling Scandinavian power metal band bashing out NWOBHM-styled tunes. In theory, that would be great for me, but the band keeps trotting out the same tired ideas, the same riffs, the same choruses, the same Valhalla battles fought over and over since 1982's Battle Hymns.
While I'm sure the die-hards are going crazy for this, there's just a couple of things that work against it in terms of listenablity. The triggered bass drums are a bit awkward for a band that made its name on 'rawness'. The lyrics more often than not flirt with hokey. But the biggest issue I have is the absolutely unpleasant bass tone of Joey DiMaio. Big deal, he plays a specialty piccolo bass, it's buzzy and awkward. Sounds like shit!
Eric Adams hasn't lost any power over the years, and really is the only positive here. I think the most compelling thing about his style is the way he channels his influences. Most singers have a direct lineage to a few masters, the usual suspects...Halford, Dio, Tate, Dickinson, Plant. Eric alwys came across to me as a direct product of Ozzy and Gillan.
The fans are probably thrilled to death with this release, and that's who it's aimed at, for this is no entry level opening for new ears. For a point of reference, go back and check out Hail to England or the aforementioned Battle Hymns.
PITRIFF RATING - 55/100 - I'd probably like to bash on this record, but I'm sure it fit the prescription for exactly what their crowd wants and expects. I've heard this record before by them, and done better. And, what do you know, another Manowar title with "of" in the title!