Released: 2002, Nuclear Blast
There has been a lot of talk good, bad and otherwise in the global metal community about an event of this magnitude…. a new Manowar album. Let’s put aside the hype, the history, the bravado and really take a good look at this CD.
Another excellent Ken Kelly cover. What no Canadian flag on the cover? Disappointing. Manowar always pushing for the highest quality, deliver an eleven song CD clocking in at 48 minutes.
Let’s really break it down. Three fast songs. two mid-tempo songs, two slow songs, and four songs that in all honesty cannot be classified as “metal”. The pacing on this CD is quite uneven. The pace really is odd…two mid-tempo songs, 2 non-metal songs, a slow song, two more non-metal songs, a mid-tempo song and then a boot to the head with three fast songs top close the album. Another odd things are the cover tunes. Manowar have rarely (once I think) done a cover and suddenly we have two cover tunes and one being of a medley of three cover tunes! A break from tradition for sure as Manowar delivers something new and fresh. Only they have the balls to try to do a medley of ballads “An American Trilogy” and an opera tune, “Nessun Dorma” and get away with it. It was nice of them to include the English translation of the opera tune and Eric’s vocal performance will silence the people who say he is not a good singer once and for all. “The American Trilogy” did nothing for me as I didn’t recognize two of the three songs in the medley. Being Canadian the patriotism was a little much for me but I understand the intention and feel the sincere sentiment in what they did., but I just have the same emotional connection, being far removed from the events of September 11th. “The March” and “Valhalla” are majestic, glorious, epic and heart swelling instrumentals but…not metal. Metal in spirit yes, metal in terms of sonic delivery, no.
So that leaves us with 7 of the 11 songs of real metal material. The opener “Call to Arms” is fantastic, Eric’s voice has never sounded so powerful and has a new raw edge that really suits the music. I was surprised and delighted at his newer heavier vocal style. The other three midpaced/slow tunes are very anthemic, with pounding metal beats, wonderful sing-along choruses, with the usual high caliber of musicianship that we have come to expect. The title track shows again Eric’s newer raw vocal style and was an excellent choice for the single. Finally the triple shot to the head the final three tracks just crush, reminding us of many of the tunes on TRIUMPH OF STEEL, thundering bass, pounding double bass, blazing solos and Eric screaming his lungs out. Truly wonderful.
The lyrics are standard Manowar style, very powerful and inspiring and staying faithful to the principles of true metal. Despite a lack of originality there are enough innovative phrases to keep it fresh. Personal fave: May the blood of battle upon your weapons never dry”.
All in all, I feel this is a very personal, solemn and intimate Manowar album; one they made for themselves as much as for the fans. Eric’s vocal solo, the instrumentals, the sentiments about September 11th all combine to make this a warm, full and ultimately quite laid-back Manowar. My prediction is that in 2004 they will roar back with an absolutely crushing CD and make TRIUMPH OF STEEL Part II. They truly are the Kings of Metal.