Friday, March 29, 2019

Album Review: Manowar - The Final Battle I

Manowar is the latest veteran band to embark on a farewell tour and to commemorate this supposedly last trek around the world they are releasing a trilogy of EPs of new music. This first release contains four tracks (three if you discount the instrumental intro) and if you know the band you already know what to expect: True Metal warrior chants of blood, battles, swords, pride and the love of all things Metal (insert high pitched wail here).

Of course, the whole thing is so over the top that even Ronnie James Dio would raise his eyes at the sight of these old men in loincloth singing about the Metal brotherhood and blood-thirsty knights pleasuring insatiable women by the thousands but the unapologetic ridiculousness is part of what makes Manowar such a satisfying affair. That and, like AC/DC, the Ramones or Motörhead, the sheer consistency of the style they founded: some albums are better than others, but when you get a Manowar album, you know that you will get a quintessentially Manowar experience. Thankfully, this vintage is a rather good one, probably due to the format: there is no room for filler on an EP and consequently all of the songs are top notch, and rather diverse as well.

March Of The Heroes Into Valhalla is a symphonic instrumental intro and would fit right in an epic fantasy movie like Lord Of The Rings. It's loud and bombastic and sets the tone for the rest of the EP.

Blood & Steel is your typical Manowar epic Metal number, not quite as awesome as their classic Blood Of My Enemies but what is?

Sword of the Highland is a cinematic metal ballad anthem with a dramatic chorus, powerful melody and a committed performance by singer Eric Adams who despite his 66 years of age still boasts an impressive vocal range. The blues-rock guitar solo is oddly out of place, but it's a great track nonetheless.

You Shall Die Before I Die opens with ominous Gregorian Chants and theatrical narration over gothic guitar arpeggios, and then things get really slow and heavy: ferocious Viking vocal growls and a formidable bass line by Joey DeMaio that even the unfocused guitar solo cannot ruin.

This is a perfect format if like me, you are a wimp and a poser and can only take Manowar in small doses. If not, you still have two more instalments of The Final Battle to look forward to until you can binge on the whole thing. Everybody wins.

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