Dienstag, 19. Februar 2013

MANOWAR - "THE LORD OF STEEL" (The Kings of Metal back in 2012 on "MAGIC CIRCLE ENTERTAINMENT", CD - Version)

("Magic Circle Entertainment"; CD):
Pretty much the last entry or post to work up the few stuff I didn't got done already by the end of 2012 due to the circumstances back then and that I couldn't get done earlier this year due to the fact that I had no new own working internet access, after this one here pretty much finally the retrospection or big review on the year known as 2012 will follow up here. I know again a little bit late, but anyhow, better late than never and that the circumstances at the beginning of this very year had been pretty equal to the circumsatnces at the beginning of the last year wasn't planned exactly that way. But after 2012 was overall in every way by far, far better than 2011 also up here the retrospection on it will already come up earlier, just two months later not six. And okay, what we have here?!? Yes, you read correct, the review on the new MANOWAR album released by the very end of 2012. I always stood for it that I loved this band once, image/gimmick and lyrics... hm, growing up and this became not so important anymore, to say it this way, but I mean and always meant first and foremost their music, and especially albums like "KINGS OF METAL", "FIGHTING THE WORLD", "THE SIGN OF THE HAMMER" and especially my personal masterpiece "THE TRIUMPH OF STEEL" as well as also their strong and pretty cool rocking "LOUDER THAN HELL" really own platinum positions in my personal legends and classics and evergreens list. I still remember when I first listened to MANOWAR, back then when I got my hands on their old best of album "THE HELL OF STEEL" and the music and the imagery and the lyrics really grabbed me, and then I discovered more and more of MANOWAR and their work and art. And they had been one of the few Metal bands that always stood their ground on my playfield respectively in my playbook, over all the years, even in times when Metal in general lost a lot of its once importance for me. And that MANOWAR had never been a anyhow ''cool'' band was never and is not of any importance for me. The lyrics really pleased my gusto back then when I was a twelve to fourteen year old kid with a strong faible for Fantsay literature, especially Conan, Comics, especially again Conan and, yes, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, stories about brave and strong Barbarians and Heroes fighting against Demons and Dragons and stuff like this, and with also a also back then already very big interest in history and themes and topics dealing with the complex of war. And what shall I say, the last mentioned interest grew on and on and is today thankfully very profund and let me to study and doing my graduations also in Political Sciences and Philosophy. Okay, MANOWAR weren't into play in and with this, haha. I'm still also some sort of a nerd also to Fantasy and Comics, haha, but before this leads totally astray, looking at the image/gimmick of MANOWAR and a lot of the lyrics then today I mostly like it because I know and like it as a (important) part of MANOWAR but really that fascinating it isn't anymore to me for one and a half decade now or so (yes, I'm a old guy today... old and grumpy... ;-) ...), but, like I said, the music (especially of the named albums) still really is a phenomenal statement of its very own. Okay, but what they did over the last decade or so... terrible. All the unnecessary Live and Best Of release bullshit on CD, LP and DVD I ignored drastically and this was pretty easy. What wasn't that easy was to ignore what a bullshit farce the last two proper albums, "WARRIORS OF THE WORLD" and "GODS OF WAR" (or something like this) had been. Not worth to be anyway be MANOWAR albums. And all the even for MANOWAR by far too much over the top statements like "I would die for Metal!" had been nothing but a ridiculous farce. So, sadly enough, I have said goodbye to this band, sticked with my beloved old albums but decided that no new one will ever join my record collection. And then 2012 happened and "THE LORD OF STEEL" was released. I don't know why but I was right from the first time I saw this album in my local record store totally grabbed and fascinated by it and last christmas I received it as a christmas gift... and since then this disc is running daily more than only one time through my stereo. What a phenomenal masterpiece!!! And that Metalheads and their magazines seem to have their problems with it... who cares?!? At least not me, right!!! But okay, one after another... and I think you already got it, right, this will be a longer review article or post up here finally again. ;-) First listened to it and I was a little bit confused, the opener which is the title track, "THE LORD OF STEEL", is damn heavy and beats in a mercyless stoic way out of your speakers that I really had a hard time to get into it and with it to get into the whole album as well and this all just to discover that it all sounds somehow damn different and without being able to name what it is respectively was and so I was somehow sort of a little bit confused due to this. Was it maybe my pretty long abstinence from this band or what ever but something was different but what? It gave me anyhow a hard time at first. But it not only left me confused, but also curious as well and so promptly I came back to this little silver shining disc. And from then on I should have always had hard times in leaving it again... fucking amazing shit. So here we go more detailed to work, through the songs, through the album.
The album starts with the title track "THE LORD OF STEEL"as the opener and this is something that only great bands can do, or better: That only really great bands would dare to do and so it's no wonder that no one else than a band like MANOWAR dares and chooses to do so, and how they do it. "THE LORD OF STEEL" is a very hard and heavy, a very massive and stoic, a brutal cumbersome roadblock of a song, marked by stoic and hypnotic guitar riffing that really start to drill its way deep down into your ears straight in your head after you divulged yourself to the at first somehow disconcerting tone, the massive and bulky heavyness without any tacky emotiveness, too dry and stoic and in some way dirty is it all done and arranged, the stoic hammering guitar work and the extremely present and incredible heavy marking bass playing and the controlled but brutal clamouring drumming, as well as the very hard and pretty deep and dark vocals that really refuse any too far and too much eunuch styled singing. Very hard and massive and very stoic, but not monolithic, because just wait for the incredible great guitar solo and take good listens to the very playful bass. Amazing!!! In no way a typical shout your throat dry and swing your fists through the air hymn, but a damn mighty and awesome song and really an earopener for more to come, a taste of things to come you may can say with a lot of justification. Also you will recognize surely the very special and unique sound, dominated by the bass, that we get here on and in our ears and trust me, you will start to love it very soon. Lyrically this one is pretty much a song about punishment of sins and misconducts and of betrayal and treacheries that all will be righteously atoned very soon, in this case by the cold and clean mercyless steel. Reminds me pretty much at the first (and damn great) "CONAN - THE BARBARIAN" movie with the almighty Arnold Schwarzenegger and the hunting down of the scum that is overweening to make themselves judges and gods upon others and that must and should and will be cutted down to size in time. Not really politically correct in our time of appeasment and of bowing down to each and any scumbag and of vindicating all its crimes with oh so good and just reasons... This is rather for taking justice back in your, in our hands and taking care of your, of our own business without asking, waiting or begging for help. Thumbs up for that, cheers to MANOWAR, period. One hell of a great song and an amazing way to start off this album.
Then follows as the second track "MANOWARRIORS", raging guitar riffs, exhilarated drumming, forceful pushing yet incredible playful bass playing and powerful and mighty lead vocals, brilliant solo playing, and for/by several voices in a rhythmic accentuated arranged done way marked sing a long and shout out loud mighty refrain, open a beer and hail Metal with singing a long with the band. By any means this song is meant and arranged to be a fucking anthem and that's exactly what this song is, a damn mighty anthem to hail Metal, MANOWAR as a band and especially the fans of MANOWAR, the "MANOWARRIORS", and so are all the lyrics to this song done. A big thank by the band for the fans, and one hell of a great song and a strong anthem, a hymn. Great!!!
Next one is "BORN IN A GRAVE", a very sinister and in some ways and by any means atmospheric monument of a song, yet hard and heavy hitting. A pretty sinister and intense affair, full of very heavy, yet damn fluent and catchy guitar riffs and a bass that carries this song on a mystic and dark occult tone, while the tight drumming gives it a resitant and loadable backbone, while the often whispering melodic vocals give this song really its crown. Lyrically this one is pretty much a tale of a ''lost soul'' and the life he or she lives with all its imperfection and this right from the start of it all, and this all done like the music very sinister and dark and thankfully without any too cheesy clichés. A great song, again.
This one is then followed by "RIGHTEOUS GLORY", a symphonic power ballad with some pagan like vibe to it, tons of pathos and bombast, but yet they manage it to make it not too far over the top so that it not gets annoying. Flimsy and sensitive guitar playing, and a bass that nearly totally takes the control about/over this song in the verses with its cheerful and empathic lead playing. Variable drumming, a again very shining guitar solo playing and forceful adjuring lead vocals, pretty deep and really powerful that totally avoid any eunuch singing bullshit, again, really make this song shine, even if you maybe normally can't deal with ballads, be it power ballads or ordinary ballads. Really a giant of a strong song. Lyrically it deals with a lot of pagan and nordic stuff, Odin and how the brave fallen warriors been taken up to him to join him in Valhalla to finally fight again at Ragnarök. Not really my thing, this paganism, but it's without using too far overstretched and overused clichés and is also a old and well known part of the history of MANOWAR (just remember "THOR THE POWERHEAD" and other stuff like this), so it's all good and fine with me.
Then comes one of my absolute favorites and also the kick off to the by far most strongest songs on this one, the almighty "TOUCH THE SKY". Marked by a very intense and tight atmosphere and this right from the very start of it, straight from the get go or how you may can say. A impressive mighty entry, ''straight'n'breaky'' I just say (without knowing if anyone will understand it, hehe...), and then the (first) verse kicks in, marching bass with doing more than just the rhythm work, no, again doing mostly the lead playing work, retentioned guitar playing and detaining drumming, whispered lead vocals, this gives goosepimples without end. Then crushes in the refrain with massive guitar walls, stunning bass, powerful sung invoking lead vocals, and beefy pounding drumming, with a hymnal arrangement and a larger than life lead melody. And so this song goes, thankfully, fucking on. This is fucking awesome!!! I love it!!! Lyrically this about the will to power as the leading principle in your life to march through it, through all the ups and downs, with your head held up high proud and to set yourself apart from the rest of the humanoid maggot scum out there. Brilliant!!!
After this the massive and pissed off "BLACK LIST" follows up next, kicking it of making you think that it would be an instrumental track. Massive crushing guitar riff walls, bulldozer like yet nimble-footed buoyant drumming, and the incredible strong marking bass that again does more than just the rhythm work... and latest by now when you listen to this album for the first or second time you should know what made this album so strange and nonorthodox at first and what manages it to keep it fresh and unique over the distance: It's the bass, not the guitar that does the main work here, the bass walks not only the walk (of the rhythm arrangement) but that also does the talk of the talk (of the lead arrangement), and this is very untypical and new and fresh and unique for a Metal album, also for a MANOWAR album, and so you shouldn't wonder if you maybe need some time at first to discover this album and its greatness in total. And don't misunderstand it, amazing solos and also leads of the guitars we get as well, but latest when you listen attentive to this album you will get and understand when I say that the bass dominates this albums and that it's not at least exactly this what makes this album so fresh and grapping and exciting, and so different. So, okay, back to "BLACK LIST", this very doomy and heavy and mostly instrumental done monster of a song, with it's crushing drums and guitars, its awesome bass and great solo work, and its strong but only secondary vocals. A massive stunning song lyrically (and musically) about self-assertion. Pure greatness!!!
Then comes my personal absolute favorite one, the larger than life anthem "EXPENDABLE". Brilliant rhythm structure, galloping arrangemets with nice forceful breaks worked perfectly into the massive stunning flowing song that gives you the feeling of a hunt for your enemies or ride into battle and war, exactly what the lyrics express, and the very heavy and dashing guitar riff work and the cracking drums in alliance with the impressive hard bass and the really outstanding lead vocals really make this song in its whole arrangement and way of being done to a great affair. It's heavy, it's hard, it's massive, and it's sharp, perfectly arranged, so what could you ask more for... right, this is the real deal. I really fell in love with this one, amazing shit!!! Lyrically ifluenced by the "THE EXPENDABLES" movies, especially the second one I think so, and it's about taking revenge and hunting down your enemies and not stopping before their blood is one with the earth. Really a mean and aggressive, a brutal song, musiaclly and lyrically. And truly a real anthem. I love it!!! Btw and just for the record, this whole "THE EXPENDABLES" theme also marks in general and in total this new MANOWAR album quite a bit, like you can also see by looking at the new band pictures/photos where the new band dresses are also hold or kept this way. So, another changing of the MANOWAR image/gimmick, at least a little bit, so it goes from "CONAN" back then over this whole Biker thing to "THE EXPENDABLES" now and today. Anyway, back to the topic.
Next one is the more or less Cowboy or something like this themed and inspired song "EL GRINGO", another great hymn by MANOWAR on "THE LORD OF STEEL" album. Special Western/Cowboy Outlaw atmosphere to this very catchy and hymnal one with a special flavor and a special and very tight atmosphere as well. Like a wild glunslinging ride over the prairie. Melodic yet hard'n'heavy guitar playing, symphonic melodic bass work, tight drumming, some special extra musical gimmicks and mighty lead vocals on top of it. A catchy and melodic hymn, jauntily and elated, a Outlaw hymn and this is also what the lyrics deal with. So, like I've said, you see, a through and through Outlaw theme song, today maybe better fitting for Bikers than Cowboys...
Then comes "ANNIHILATION", a song a little bit sort of "BLACK LIST", which means that clearly the vocals, as great as they are, are only secondary and that you also get here at and with this very one that on this album the bass is the dominant part, the leading force, the dominant instrument. This should be noticed by anyone in the middle part of the song when guitar and bass are fighting out a duel with their overlapping played solos, and, as great as the job Karl Logan does at and with his guitar surely is, Joey DeMaio and his bass take clearly the victory. And so is the whole song, that not at least due to the already mentioned guitar and bass solo duel owns a lot of a 1970's Progressive Rock flavor (but in a fresh and not cheesy way), a very impressive and intense and also a very dark and heavy affair with a brutal and sinister atmosphere. A atmosphere or a spirit that is marking heavily the whole album in general, but "ANNIHILATION" is one the songs where this comes out most clear and precise to notice. And again we have sheer massive and beefy, bulky crushing guitars, skull cracking and bone shaking drums, yes, Donnie Hamzik really did a fantastic job, and a bass that just shines and is so incredible playful yet brutal and forceful at the same time that it is nothing but incredible and outshining everything and anything else. Some more words more detailed to the phenomenal lead vocals of Eric Adams, because I think that I don't savored his work enough so far here in and with this review. He's simply doing a fantastic job (or did a fantastic job on this one here back in the studio), singing not anymore that piercing sharp and high like back in the days, maybe also somehow a little bit due to the fact that also he gets older and that he is not the youngest anymore, but he sings today even more force- and powerful then before and this more darker and deeper voice and style of singing just really shines and is a big plus for the whole album, not at least that it fits perfectly to the brutal and dark and intense atmosphere and spirit that marks this whole album. So, anyway, I can't eulogize enough the phenomenal and skilled gifted work he's doing on the whole album and this more deeper and darker, more brutal and harder way of singing and avoiding to sharp piercing high singing styles really fits him as a musician and as a singer perfectly as well as it perfectly fits to the this very album here. A just fantastic job by Eric Adams. And this all you find perfectly blended into "ANNIHILATION" as or into one. What a mighty milehigh monument of a song. Lyrically it hails Metal music and gives a stiff middle finger to its enemies.
Then comes "HAIL, KILL AND DIE" and don't you expect a reload of "HAIL & KILL" just because of the title. Lyrically it's in the tradition of old songs like "BLOOD OF THE KINGS", so it's a hymn to the fans and the band, a hymn to this whole monster named MANOWAR and all that they have all did so far. A typical MANOWAR hymn. But musically this is a doomy and a slow creeping or better milling or rolling hard and dark, brutal and intense creature of a song full of a sinister aggressive and battle scarred attitude that comes out clearly in the forceful forward marching rhythm arrangements and the mighty verses, the totally heavy fist in the air killer refrain consisting of the four loud more-voiced shouted title words and backed up by a machine gun like bass drum of the drums. Stoic pushing guitar and bass work, hammering drums and massive and bulky styled hard sung lead vocals, all to hail MANOWAR and their fans and their interpretation of and dedication to Metal music. Mission accomplished, one hell of a outstanding monster of a song.
Then comes the closing shapter of the album, "THE KINGDOM OF STEEL". A power ballad, very symphonic und with a lot of Bombast and Pathos, like a good Metal ballad, if one with power or not, also somehow needs it anyhow. Solemn arrangement and style of playing of the guitars and the bass, withdrawal drums, Bombast parts, tight atmosphere and the vocals of Eric Adams really shine out and make the most biggest part of the song and its quality. Good job anyway. Lyrically it is sort of matchable with "RIGHTEOUS GLORY" as above described, pretty much the same theme or topic, but without the whole pagan nordic images. Really a strong song.
So, okay, this song by song walk-through through the whole album hopefully gave you a good overview over the album and the ways in which it's different and special, as well as about how incredible great and phenomenal it is as a fact. That the guys in the band are incredible damn fucking high skilled musicians and that they are as songwriters as least as good and skilled and gifted as their musical technical skills are just should be clear anyway and is here written by me just for the record. And after this review here is already really damn long I will spare me any redundant recapitulation of all the stuff that I have written before. So I just have to say, that also I have said by far enough about the lyrics, that also the artwork of this album is just great and that the yery earthy and warm and bass dominated production sound is also sheer pure platinum and fits also perfectly to the music. This is one of the very most strongest albums of 2012 as well as one of the very most strongest albums for and in years, so I can only highly recommend it honestly to everyone out there, at least or especially to anyone interested in Metal. This really is just: Amazing!!! So just: Buy it!!! Amazing!!! (10 of 10 points)

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