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Manowar – Warriors of the World re-issue

by Brett Stevens
July 7, 2013 –

manowar-warriors_of_the_world_tenth_anniversary_remasterMost people are ruled by a fear of what other people think. If they don’t end up looking cool to their friend group, they fear they have become invalidated and are worthless. As a result, people have difficulty accepting anything which is not ironic, contrived and vague.

On the other hand, there’s Manowar.

If you need a good dose of healthy fighting spirit, and a sense of both power and beauty in life, and like the thought of of no longer caring what the in-crowd thinks, Manowar can be liberation. There is no doubting that this music is bombastic and emotionally transparent and direct, which some might call “cheesy.”

However, it’s completely ludicrous to assume that this is any more cheesy than your average metal or rock band. What makes it stand out is that it isn’t neurotic. It embraces a pure heavy metal spirit that affirms bravery, strength, power and a desire for life to be more than “practical” and dollars and cents. You might find it awakening the part of you we might even call… a soul.

That being said, Manowar create in the hazy area between classic heavy metal, glam or stadium metal, and speed metal. They use a lot of speed metal technique to give some backbone to songs which are not afraid to explore melody, mood and atmosphere. What seems like a straightforward heavy metal album has a number of surprises.

You think the intellectuals would like it. What other heavy metal album busts out a Puccini aria from Turandot on the third track, complete with cascading power chord riffs backing up vocalist Eric Adams as he entirely competently belts out this song? Further, despite its many side-steps and quirks, this album is a concept work. How many bands dedicate an album not to war, but those who fight? And make it interesting throughout?

True, there’s a ton of balladry here. There’s a reason that glam metal is included in the list of Manowar influences. These guys took the effete ballads to cheesy women that made glam bands both rich and annoying, and have injected them with instead with a sense of masculine power and the satisfaction of putting things to right when they are disordered. How else to explain the relentlessly patriotic “The Fight for Freedom” two songs away from a tribute to Odin that sounds like a more radio-friendly Bathory? Warriors of the World provides metal fans with a way to connect to emotion without giving in to the weakness of self-doubt and displacement.

The reason we listen to Manowar is that it is just solidly great heavy metal. Like a good opera, each song builds up until there’s energy ready to explode and then it unleashes its momentum into a new direction that becomes as anthemic, foot-tapping and lighter-waving as the best from rock ‘n’ roll as a whole. At these moments, the listener feels like a wave of power bursting free from its containment and raging across a world ripe for destruction. It’s hard to deny the essential appeal of “Warriors of the World,” which is both catchy and elegant.

If you liked Def Leppard in high school, or find the more aggressive moments of Led Zeppelin make you want to punch out your boss and ask out your unspoken high school crush even though she lives three states away, you will immediately pick up on the appeal of this record. The additional technique just makes this more powerful. It’s harder to spot the Queen and Jethro Tull influences, but they are as much part of this album as the Metallica-inspired E-chord rhythm noodling.

Warriors of the World now sounds better than ever thanks to a remaster which didn’t just turn up the volume with the help of compression. It is louder, but dynamics are preserved, and some things that were quieter in the mix the first time have come back with strength. This is especially important with the many vocal tracks and complex interweaving of guitars, vocals and chorus on this album. What makes the album appreciated is its timeless heavy metal quality.

This seems to have been the intent all along. Having conquered basic heavy metal moods, Manowar opted for an ambitious offering with their ninth studio album, and time has been kind to it as it rises above the limited imagination of others. Don’t worry about what the people you think are your friends “think.” Enjoy this for the ambitious musical offering of pure heavy metal spirit that it is.

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10 comments

  • Dionysus

    Hell yeah, this album rules! One of my very early metal loves when it came out, and it hasn’t lost an ounce of charm. Now if this site would re-evaluate its (practically non-existent) relationship to bands such as Manilla Road or Cirith Ungol we could really have a ball. I’d love to see Mr.Stevens reviewing some of those records.

    Reply
  • Dystopic Lynch

    I could never get into this band. They’re dinner theater metal. I went to a party a couple of years ago and all these underweight metalheads started posing (like viking-ish Manowarriors) and singing along as if it was the best thing on the planet. One fell off a coffee table.

    I don’t know if Odin would approve of how cheesy this band is.

    Reply
  • SwallowedInBlack

    *vocalist Eric Adams

    Old Manowar is the best Manowar by far, but unlike some purists, I still really like their newer, more power metal based material. Still have to pick up Into Glory Ride, but then maybe I’ll look into this.

    Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in a presentation for an Art History class in which I spoke about the artistic influences and sensibilities of metal album covers, during the portion based on its relationship with Romantic art I compared this one’s to Liberty Leading the People; put them next to each other and it’s uncanny.

    Reply
  • SERIOUS QUESTIONER

    But ask yourself this Brett, back when your were listening to nothing but MDC, DRI, REM and Slayer, would you have given Manowar a chance? I don’t think so … On a different note, Battle Hymns and Hail to England are this band’s best albums.

    Reply
  • Anthony

    I think that investing time in this band is kind of an ideological trap. It’s easy to get behind all of the true metal, wimps and posers leave the hall talk, but I think that Manowar are more about creating a cult of personality around themselves to get ahead than they are actually interested in metal and the metal spirit.

    Their ’80s stuff was okay-ish, but Bathory’s Hammerheart, Blood on Ice, and Twilight of the Gods albums so improved on their formula as to make early Manowar obsolete. The latter day Manowar stuff sounds almost like Kiss to me, like they built up this mythology about themselves and are using it primarily for merchandising. Witness their massive Euro-trash sing-a-long fanbase for proof of this.

    To fans of Manowar (and their “death metal” successors Amon Amarth) looking for something more, I would suggest giving Manilla Road’s pre-’90s break-up albums a listen, particularly the ones released between ’82 and ’86. Something like “The Ninth Wave” feels a lot more “true metal” to me than good-times biker rock like “Death Tone” or masturbatory nonsense like “Black Arrows.”

    Reply
    1. fallot

      This is compelling, I don’t doubt that Manowar seek to create an impression of “true-ness”. It is quite obviously cultivated and isn’t surreptitious. They extend it to the point of absurdity as well. However, I don’t think there is reason enough to consider it mostly cold calculation, they have produced quality stuff and the degree of their investment is too great. It would be easier to switch to hard rock while maintaining a macho facade.

      Reply
  • MF

    I liked Manowar but with some reservations. Their first four are excellent for this style, particularly Into Glory Ride and Hail to England. I wouldn’t consider Warriors to be one of their better albums. Unfortunately, much of their talent is overshadowed by the sheer pretentiousness egos, particularly with their dreadful renditions of classical pieces (Flight of the Bumblebee, Nessum Dorma), and with the trainwreck concept album Gods of War.

    Reply
  • bitterman

    I’m not sure how to feel about Manowar. On one hand, their message about metal is cool, but on the other… After hearing death and black metal in the early 90s I’ve never been able to look back. Hearing a Manowar song like Brothers of Metal is humorous in a way, like fun drinking music, but the enjoyment from it ends when the song ends. It doesn’t leave me obsessed with the music or thinking about it beyond just listening to it like Altars of Madness or Burzum still does after many years. I doubt Manowar see their music as art, but I only keep the best of the best in my album collection (which used to be close to 2000 before I gave and sold away enough to just have 96 – too much non-essentials like Overkill and Testament, sadly…), and I need something more than Metallica’s headbanging riffs, Motorhead’s fast energy, or Manowar anthems in a serious listening session. Not to say it isn’t good for what it is though. I’m also surprised Brett Stevens wrote this article. I could see what he means by his description of their role in metal and metal culture, but even stuff like Painkiller or Number of the Beast which are “total metal” seem lacking in their entirety next to just the intro of Hell Awaits.

    Reply

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