Manowar set their agenda right from their opening track ‘Death Tone’, motorbikes, outright rebelliousness and paying homage to the power of heavy metal.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Battle Hymns
LABEL: Liberty/EMI America
SERIAL: LBG 30349
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Eric Adams – vocals * Ross The Boss – guitar * Joey Demaio – bass * Donnie Hamzik – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Death Tone * 02 Metal Daze * 03 Fast Taker * 04 Shell Shock * 05 Manowar * 06 Dark Avenger * 07 William’s Tale * 08 Battle Hymn
WEBLINKS: Site Link
As Manowar prepare to release their latest set of epic symphonic metal (‘Hammer of the Gods’), it struck me just how raw they once were, especially on their bona fide classic debut in 1982. True Manowar have always been a pioneer of lengthy fantasy metal escapades rooted in Nordic mysticism and all that rubbish, but back in their early days their ferocity was more believable and straight forward heavy metal wise.
The band formed with the pairing of Ross the Boss and De Maio, with Ross part of Shakin’ Street at the time and before that The Dictators, while De Maio was supposedly working as a bass tech for Black Sabbath, although Carl Canedy in his interview with Glory Daze many years ago said he and De Maio formed their own outfit named Chopper, prior to Manowar’s formation.
With the addition of Ian Gillan fanatic Adams and Hamzik, the most blatantly pro-heavy metal band of all time was created, bursting on the scene with what still ranks in my opinion as their best album.
Manowar set their agenda right from their opening track ‘Death Tone’, motorbikes, outright rebelliousness and paying homage to the power of heavy metal. Can’t argue with that! Heavier than hell riffing with some great lyrics about Adams being ‘sent to Nam’ and ‘unemployment checks running out next week’. Cutting edge social statements believe it or not and far more listenable than this Asgard and Odin fetish they have plundered for the last decade.
One of the band’s classics appears with ‘Metal Daze’, an eternal anthem, very melodic and the definition of heavy metal with Ross’ epic guitar solo and Adams making a name for himself as one of metal’s premier screamers. This album is relentless and ‘Fast Taker’ is another savage track, faster and positively wiping out The Rods or Twisted Sister for street level metal.
One of Manowar’s most overlooked tracks has to be ‘Shell Shock’, where Adams sings about suffering from the effects of Vietnam and not being able to adjust to regular life again. The lyrics hold up well today, for example ‘the business man sat home while I got shell shocked’ and ‘I know I’m home but I feel gone’.
‘Manowar’ is another surging track, with De Maio shining on bass and is backed up well by the doom undertones of ‘Dark Avenger’ and a spoken word passage by Orson Welles, which prefaced the epic compositions to come in the coming years.
‘William’s Tale’ is De Maio’s party piece on bass, displaying his virtuosity at manic speeds and leads into the 8 minute plus ‘Battle Hymn’, a sprawling piece that features some somber acoustic moments opposed to Adams’ improbable wailing and the Boss’ superb axe work.
Nothing short of amazing and the band would continue to build on this with three more releases in as many years, although somehow there was something about the debut which usurped them all, particularly the opening four tracks which are as barbaric as metal ever got in the halcyon days of the 80’s.
Manowar these days remind me of Iron Maiden, preferring in their older age to pound out predictable concept albums that run 80 minutes, with too many slow instrumental sections and few real moments of simplified heaviness. It might be too late to return to the style of the debut, but this shows a side to the band that to me wasn’t carried over as well as it should have been, despite the bands genuine devotion to heavy metal, which cannot be faulted.