To say this is one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the still-young decade is something of an understatement. Scarcely a week goes by on our message board that some long-suffering Manowar fan doesn’t comment about how long it’s been (six years) since the last studio album, and how much they’re looking forward to the next one. Well, it’s here, and the first question asked is, “Was it worth the wait?” Manowar fans the world over have already given their answer (and continue to do so, particularly in Europe, where stores can’t stock this album fast enough), but Metal-Rules now goes on record by answering YES!
WARRIORS OF THE WORLD is the triumphant return of the self-proclaimed Kings of Metal, the band whose gestalt inspires fanatical loyalty, teary-eyed admiration, virulent hatred, or hysterical laughter the world over–depending on who you ask. If you’re not a Manowar fan you can stop reading here, because this review (and this album) is not for you. However if, like me, you just can’t resist pledging your eternal soul to the purest metal band that ever lived, you’ll be happy to know that WARRIORS OF THE WORLD is well worth your time and money.
True to form, Manowar starts out with a rollicking anthem, “Call To Arms,” followed by an extremely rousing, melodic, and patriotic fist-in-the-air song, “The Fight For Freedom,” which is dedicated to the victims (and heroes) of the horrors of September 11. This is one of the strongest and catchiest Manowar tunes in years and is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser at concerts to come. The slow, experimental stuff–of which I admit there’s more on this album than on previous releases–kicks in with “Nessun Dorma,” a Puccini opera aria covered by Eric Adams in rare form. I never thought I would hear Manowar’s vocalist give José Carreras a run for his money, but he definitely does so! “Valhalla” sounds exactly like what you’d expect from a Manowar song with that title. I could go on all day–track after track after track presents another shattering Manowargasm, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always well-played, well-sung, and incredibly epic.
Indeed, this is probably Manowar’s most epic album ever. If I had a free Manowar T-shirt for every time the lyrics, delivery or sheer power of the music gave me goose bumps, I’d be wearing their stuff for the rest of my life! In short, this album is exactly what you sign up for when you buy a Manowar album. Who would want anything different?
That said, I can understand why some people have been disappointed, but I certainly don’t agree. I think on the whole WARRIORS OF THE WORLD is a far stronger album than the last one, LOUDER THAN HELL, which, although definitely Manowar, was packed with fairly simple fast-paced crowd pleasers (with a few notable exceptions). The material here, while generally slower and less aggressive, is much more complex and packs a more powerful emotional wallop in my opinion. In fact, this album may be best appreciated as a companion piece to LOUDER THAN HELL. The prior album is fast and comes at you like a runaway train. WARRIORS OF THE WORLD keeps the spirit going, but takes you there more slowly, more firmly and with more power overall.
Is it bombastic? Yes. Maudlin? Perhaps. Cheesy? Certainly. Over-the-top? Absolutely no question. But this is one hell of an enjoyable metal album, and easily vaunts itself into the flaming pantheon of revered Manowar classics upon the very first listen. Most importantly to Manowar’s fans, the band has delivered EXACTLY what they have always said they would give us–their best possible product, delivered with the utmost sincerity and respect for the fans who have been with them for the past 22 years.
About five minutes into this album I was thinking, “This is good.” Ten minutes, “This is awesome!” Three-quarters of the way through, “This is Manowar at their best!” When the album was over I realized I was going to be playing it over and over again all summer, and I might as well permanently weld it into my CD player because it’s not going to be leaving any time soon. And even if it’s another six years before the next studio album, you can bet in the year 2008 I’ll be the first in line to pick it up.
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