Released: 2012, Magic Circle Music
New releases from Manowar are usually an event, a time when the band’s core fans eagerly await the latest chapter in the never ending saga of Death To False Metal, a tome now lengthier than a Steven Erikson novel. However, the buzz upon the release of LORD OF STEEL was muted, probably due to the fact that it was only released on iTunes and the band’s own online store. Few reviewers had advanced copies, and well there was not much of a push in the press. These are bad signs, one and all, and enough to send apprehensive jitters through the faithful. Rightly so as it turns out.
Not that LORD OF STEEL is a bad album mind you. All of the requisite elements are there, fast tempos chunky rhythms, odes to metal, and march or die lyrics topped off with a cold beer. Sounds recycled, sure, but expected and appreciated by the faithful. Amidst the cheese that is wearing thin like “Manowarriors”, is the heaving drone of foot stomper “Black List”. However, it is on the lead off title track that the real issue that I, and everyone that I know has with this album and that is the production. Remember the abysmal initial production of ENEMIES OF REALITY by Nevermore, or the crap sounds of Sabbath’s BORN AGAIN and yes the cardboard drum and general incompetent production of ST. ANGER? Enter LORD OF STEEL. DeMaio’s bass effectively drowns out every other instrument on here, a rattling buzz that will sound like blown speakers on any stereo system you play it on. Maybe a studio wizard audiophile can adjust the equalizers in such a way as to make it listenable, but why bother? If your average metal head cannot figure it out, then it is not worth the trouble.
Second sad state of affairs is that Eric Adams has apparently lost his range. Either that, or like the geniuses in Metallica that decided guitar solos were dead on St. Anger, he figures upper range screams are no longer necessary. Yes, that’s right, no blood curdling screams or jaw dropping wails like on the end of “Kingdom Come”. Truly this is a shame, because it is clear that “Touch The Sky” would have been a classic with less bass and more vocal range, while “Hail, Kill and Die” is the vintage throwback tune that could have appeared on any of the early breakthrough albums. Undoubtedly there are some real clunkers, like the previously mentioned laugher “Manowarriors” and the subpar ballad “Righteous Glory”, but the real damage is done by that buzzing crackle of overdriven bass. You gotta believe that a band as concerned with their legacy as Manowar is will remaster, re-record, redo or whatever it takes to correct this. Recommended for the true Manowar fans, as nothing will deter them from soldiering on, but for the rest of us, meh, wait for the re-mastered version.