[13 December 2006]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Ah, Manowar. Perennial purveyors and celebrators of everything that is cheesy about heavy metal, delivering straight-faced diatribes against FALSE METAL and unironic t-shirts bearing such slogans as, “Born to rock, drink, and fuck.” Despite having released one true classic power metal album (1983’s Hail to England) and a handful of great ‘80s tracks (“Hail and Kill”, for one), Manowar has inexplicably managed to remain popular in Europe, and this brand-new EP comes with a lot of hype, but once again, only partially delivers. Once again, the music is horribly overrated, featuring plenty of bombastic orchestration, grandiose declarations by vocalist Eric Adams, and the kind of predictable anthems that either make people hate power metal or love it. The live rendition of “King of Kings” and the title track are decent Manowar tunes, but the cheese becomes nearly unbearable on the tepid, lugubrious “God of War”, and all the depictions of warfare pale in comparison to much more invigorating tales by bands like Amon Amarth and Bolt Thrower. That said, these guys know how to cater to their fans (the massive series of Hell on Earth DVDs is proof), and this release is no exception, boasting some wonderfully garish art design (Horses! Tigers! Pit bulls!), along with a splendid bonus DVD featuring 5.1 surround mixes of the five audio tracks, photos, a peek behind the scenes, and a very entertaining half-hour documentary on a Manowar fan convention. Fans are going to love this, but for the uninitiated, check out Hail to England first.