Manowar – The Final Battle I
Reviewed: August, 2019
Released: 2019, Magic Circle Entertainment
It’s amazing how people jump to conclusions. A few years back, some people decided that Manowar was finished. This of course was not at all true and despite public proclamations from the band to the contrary these silly rumours seem to have persisted. I suppose the band did not help the situation or matters by calling the tour, ‘The Final Battle’ and the name of the new EP, THE FINAL BATTLE I. However, Iron Maiden experienced the same scenario earlier in 2010 when they announced the name of the new album as THE FINAL FRONTIER and Maiden fans on-line everywhere freaked out and jumped to conclusions that the band was done, based on the album title alone. I suppose it is understandable that fans do not want their favourite band to go away, just as much as people who hate a band want them to go away and quite comfortably perpetuate rumours for their own selfish purposes. Either way, Manowar is a polarizing band with objectively some of the most die-hard fans around and I fall firmly in that camp. That’s why I ordered the new EP THE FINAL BATTLE I, right away.
This four song EP (or MCD if you prefer) has been released on jewel case on the bands own Magic Circle music label and once again features the mysterious, faceless, Manowarrior character that has been on so many albums before. The line-up changes do nothing to slow down the band with Anders Johansson (ex- Yngwie J. Malmsteen, ex-Hammerfall) hammering the drums of doom and young gun guitar hero EV Martel, landing the gig of a lifetime.
Clocking in a 20 minutes, the EP starts with an orchestral, instrumental introduction, complete with male choirs, soundtrack in style, and execution, swelling up in energy, intensity and triumph to herald the arrival of our heroes. The next three songs are classic, quintessential Manowar, no changes, none wanted. Over the years Manowar has slightly experimented with their tone and this is generally a continuation of the well-received LORD OF STEEL sound and tone.
The next three cuts are all excellent, the straight-up pounding, crusher ‘Blood And Steel’ and the soaring mid-paced, battle hymn ‘Sword Of The Highlands’ complete with military style drum and pipe accompaniment. The EP closes with an interesting, exploratory vocal style change from Adams, who goes into a really, low gruff delivery with a menacing message of you shall die before I die! All of these songs are worthy of the Manowar legacy.
This was several years back, somewhere around the release of GODS OF WAR I recall some clever person saying, ‘Manowar should stop trying to be Rhapsody and Rhapsody should stop trying to be Manowar’. I think they took that advice to heart because the band really returned to the primal, primitive sound of the early years and scaled back the symphonic stuff. It is still present, as evidenced in the intro, ‘March Of The Heroes Into Valhalla’ but the rest is pure old-school Manowar. I’m already looking forward to THE FINAL BATTLE Parts 2 and 3 because 20 minutes is not enough…but better than no Manowar at all! Hail and Kill!
March Of The Heroes Into Valhalla
Blood And Steel
Sword Of The Highlights
You Shall Die Before I Die