February 24, 2018

Manowar - The Lord of Steel (Hammer Edition) (2012)

*Contains 10 tracks.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2012 Magic Circle Entertainment
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
After trying their loyal followers' tolerance like never before with the generally aimless symphonic fluff that surrounded the handful of real songs contained in 2007's Gods of War album, Manowar gratefully adopted a more serious and focused working approach for their 11th studio LP, 2012's The Lord of Steel. In fact, the intervening 2010 re-recording of their 1982 debut, Battle Hymns, appears to have reined in the group's thunderous hubris to no end. Notwithstanding the power-thrashing attack of The Lord of Steel's opening title track, which predictably prolongs Manowar's delusions about still playing louder, faster, and meaner than innumerable extreme metal bands (not even close), there's a startling simplicity and directness about many of these songs (for good and ill) that's long been absent from Manowar's oeuvre. Take the fast-ensuing "Manowarriors" as a good case in point: it's predictably corny (sample lyric: "In heavy metal we believe; If you don't like it, time to leave"), but endearingly so, and, more importantly, damn infectious, to boot! The same curious attributes pertain to the steady-marching "Born in a Grave" and the staccato-loving "Annihilation," and, while the turgid "Black List" goes absolutely nowhere and the aptly named "Expendable" is exactly that, the absolutely incredible "Touch the Sky" is arguably the best song Manowar's written in 20 years! Of course, since there's always been a very fine line between laughing with and laughing at Manowar, listeners will have to draw their own conclusions about less ubiquitous material such as "Hail, Kill and Die" (one of the band's long-favored mottos rendered career-retrospective), "El Gringo" (tongue-in-cheek Manowar -- could this be?), and especially the majestic ballad "Righteous Glory" (are they yearning for higher ideals or just trying to hump that mythical harpy over there?), which, if nothing else, spells out the band's personality conundrum perfectly. Clearly, this is a band that can never make things easy on itself -- or its fans -- and Joey DeMaio's strangely distorted new bass sound hasn't been mentioned yet, as it consistently harries his bandmates and ends up muffling some of the welcome empty spaces afforded by these old-school metal arrangements. In any case, and keeping in mind that there's nothing remotely strategic about how or why Manowar do what they do, The Lord of Steel still comes off as much more satisfying than recent efforts with an impressive diversity of sound and style, and is actually reflective of Manowar's earliest days as leaders not followers, however long ago that may have been. In sum, it's proof positive that they can still show common sense now and then, even if it's despite themselves.

tags: manowar, the lord of steel, hammer edition, 2012, flac,

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