Archive for April 18, 2007

Manowar - Gods Of War

Manowar – Gods Of War (2007, SPV/Magic Circle Music)

  1. Overture To The Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors
  2. The Ascension
  3. King Of Kings
  4. Army Of The Dead (Pt.1)
  5. Sleipnir
  6. Loki God Of Fire
  7. Blood Brothers
  8. Overture To Odin
  9. The Blood Of Odin
  10. Sons Of Odin
  11. Glory Majesty Unity
  12. Gods Of War
  13. Army Of The Dead (Pt.2)
  14. Odin
  15. Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors
  16. Die For Metal    (bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Eric Adams – Vocals
Karl Logan – Guitars
Joey DeMaio – Bass
Scott Columbus – Drums

Total Time – 1:13:49

Manowar official website

Manowar is one of those bands like KISS: either you love’em or you hate’em. I can honestly say that I like Manowar. I’ve been a fan since the FIGHTING THE WORLD (1987) days and I have kept up with them ever since. The band can write a good Metal song but their albums have become more and more grandiose and more of a collection of epic themed songs with each release. I wasn’t crazy about the last album, WARRIORS OF THE WORLD (2002) and I skipped the SONS OF ODIN E.P. (2006) so I was hoping for a lot with GODS OF WAR. This is a concept album about the Norse god Odin, Valhalla, etc. Then again, aren’t all Manowar albums loosely based on this concept?

Let’s start by looking at the packaging. Manowar has always prided themselves as thinking of the fans first and their product is usually second to none when it comes to material, packaging, and extras. Again, very KISS-like. I bought the special edition CD/DVD combo, right there you get value. I haven’t watched the DVD yet but I found out there is a “making of” feature about the new album and a “behind the scenes” section also. The package comes encased in a metal slipcase with an embossed Manowar logo. The package is a book-style, leather bound digipak with a full color booklet and full artwork. What makes the booklet interesting is that it almost entirely written in what I believe to be old Norwegian lettering. You need to use the letter key at the end to translate the booklet. This is a little annoying but Manowar diehards will eat this up., it’s all part of the gimmick.

The first song ‘Overture…’ is 6+ minutes of nothing. It’s all choir, orchestra, and sound effects…..boring. Second song, ‘The Ascension’, is almost three minutes of the same but with some narration and a calm Eric Adams vocal. The song carries into ‘King Of Kings’ which is definitely Manowar: fast, furious, and dated. It’s good Power Metal but the song sounds like it has been released on every Manowar album thus far. Two more minutes of choir vocals and orchestration is ‘Army Of The Dead (Pt.1)’. This is another complete waste of time, why continue with this “brothers in arms choir” crap? Four songs in and only one is a real song!

‘Sleipnir’ is another Power Metal tune with an elaborate introduction that takes up a full minute of the song. It’s a serviceable tune: it’s fast, big guitars, big drums, and Adams singing well…..it just sounds too much like ‘King Of Kings’ before it. I really like ‘Loki God Of Fire’, finally something I can sink my teeth into. Logan pulls out a monster main riff and Adams growls right over it. Columbus is reserved, playing within the song and not doing too many fills and double-bass acrobatics. Killer solo also. ‘Loki…’ shows the band still has balls.

‘Blood Brothers’ is a typical Manowar ballad of brothers in arms battling until the end. Eric Adams shines vocally, this guy has always had a great set of pipes. It’s slow and layered giving off the epic feel and it’s really long clocking in just under five minutes. There should be a rule about having two “overtures” on an album, ‘Overture To Odin’ is another instrumental piece that is totally unnecessary. When will the madness end? This isn’t a movie score, this isn’t an orchestra…..this is a Heavy Metal band! Play some Metal! This request goes unheard because ‘The Blood Of Odin’ is a four minute narration.

The band redeems themselves from wasting the last eight minutes of our time with ‘Sons Of Odin’, a six minute epic power metal song. Another song with balls: superb vocals and guitars/ The only downfall is the narrative/orchestration five minutes in that concludes the song. Remember ‘The Warrior’s Prayer’ from KINGS OF METAL (1988)? That’s basically what ‘Glory Majesty Unity’ is…..another 4:42 of wasted time. It’s a well done narrative with sound effects and orchestration but where is the Metal? We are eleven songs in and there are only FIVE real songs! With all the passages and narratives, I feel like I’m at a stage production but there are no visuals.

The title track is a slower song, more orchestral bits added to the Metal guitars and great Eric Adams vocals. It’s over seven minutes long though and I am about ready to throw this CD right out the window. Luckily I have ‘Army Of The Dead (Pt.2) to make it worse. Another instrumental with choir vocals and organ, it makes me think of Sunday mass. These two songs alone waste another ten minutes of my listening pleasure.

The main guitar riff on ‘Odin’ sounds like something straight from Queen’s FLASH GORDON album. Another slow epic song that I think I’ve heard before. By this time, I’m sick of hearing the following words: Valhalla, Odin, Valkyries, Sword, Blood. Again, Adams shines and seems to be the only bright spot on the album. If you have to have ‘Overture To The Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors’ to start the tale then you better have ‘Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors’ to end the quest! Can you guess what the song is? Correct, a slow epic song with orchestration, choral arrangement, another great Eric Adams vocal, and a good Karl Logan solo and a narrative. Thankfully the record is over…..or is it?

‘Die For Metal’ is the anthem you’ve heard Manowar do before, the anthem you expect, the anthem you hoped would be on the album. Manowar aren’t reinventing the wheel here, they do one or two of these per record but this is a refreshing change from the Norse concept that took up over an hour of my life. The main riff is a Led Zeppelin rip-off but that is forgiven because the tune really kicks ass. It’s mid-paced and cliche but it’s welcome among all the concepts.

Bottom Line:
For diehards only. If you’re a casual fan, save your money. Honestly, I think the diehard Manowar fans in the U.S. will have a hard time getting into this album but I’ll bet this is loved in Manowar strongholds in Europe and South America. I have given this album numerous critical spins and I just can’t get into it. It’s not the concept, that doesn’t stray far from the Manowar ideas, it’s all the wasted time. How many instrumentals and narratives do we need? Out of 16 songs you only get half that are true songs, the rest are conceptual fluff. I will probably never reach for this album again and I will only give the DVD a single spin. A true disappointment…..

Current playlist

Posted: April 18, 2007 in Now Playing

I’ve been spinning a few albums on the last couple of days of my vacation, here’s what I’ve been listening to:

  • Saxon – The Inner Sanctum (2007)
  • Manowar – Gods Of War (2007)
  • Sonic X – Thirteen (2007, advance copy)
  • American Angel – Vanity (2007, advance copy)
  • Masterplan – MK II (2007)
  • Riot – Thundersteel (1988)
  • Accept – Predator (1996)

What are you listening to?