Death To False Metal! All Men Play on 10! Defender! Blood Of My Enemies! These are the mantra of the self-appointed kings of metal, Manowar. The band around talented bassist and songwriter Joey De Maio and commanding singer Eric Adams has been preoccupied with establishing heavy metal’s and its own narcissistic supremacy for 30 years. Maio was working as a roadie for Black Sabbath in late ‘70s and Ronnie James Dio era when he met Ross The Boss who was in Shakin’ Street opening for Black Sabbath. The band was formed in 1980 and for a short period featured drummer Carl Canedy of The Rods. Adams also played guitar at this time. After just one demo, the Auburn, New Yorkers signed with Liberty Records in 1981 from upstate New York reportedly in their own blood and set out to proclaim the glory of heavy metal through the loudest sound possible. Unfortunately, they were dropped in 1982. The band obtained help from Bill Aucoin who had worked with Kiss and would work with Lordi 25 years later. The cover for Fighting The World was inspired by Kiss’ Destroyer.
The band has not shied away from adapting Classical music pieces next to the glories of Norse gods like Thor and Odin. The early records are considered the band’s best. Battle Hymn’s Dark Avenger' featured narration by none other than Orson Wells. The same would occur on the song Defender off Fighting The World. The band had signed on to a major label at this point. The group managed to find placement in the Guinness Book Of World Records in 1984 as the loudest band ever playing at 129 db. Hail To England was so named because the band had its most success in that country at the time. It was recorded at Toronto’s Phase One Studio. During this period, the band toured with and had a falling out with King Diamond and Mercyful Fate accusing the man of being false. Columbus quit in 1991, but would be back in 1994. Kenny 'Rhino' Earl was the temporary replacement drummer in Riot in 2000. The turn of the century brought many European festival appearances as well as albums that were issued by Nuclear Blast in Europe and Metal Blade in the USA. This was also the height of the band’s commercial success with Warriors Of The World selling very well in Europe. In late 2002, Manowar performed An American Trilogy on the SAT1 channel's Popkomm Gala with a 30-man string orchestra and choir. The band toured Germany that autumn. The band next signed a distribution agreement with SPV beginning in 2005. The release of the next Manowar album was postponed in 2006 and as a result so was the accompanying European Demons, Dragons And Warriors Tour to March and April of 2007. In late 2007, Manowar recorded both a German and an English version of Stille Nacht - known to English speaking countries as the Christmas carol Silent Night - and placed it on its website. The Gods Of War album has grown into a massive, multifaceted concept, similar to Wagner’s Ring Cycle, according to the band. Rhino returned in 2008 replacing Columbus temporarily as the band’s main drummer had several personal issues to consider. Manowar released the EP, Thunder In The Sky in 2009. The glimpse into The Asgard Saga and Manowar's collaboration with Germany's best-selling fantasy author, Wolfgang Hohlbein, the EP featured 6 songs and a bonus CD with Father recorded in 16 versions in 16 different languages. The EP was the prequel to the complete CD Hammer Of The Gods, due to be released at the end of 2009. The fourth sequel to the Hell On Earth series was coming out on November 27, 2009. Hell On Earth V would cover Manowar’s recent world tours including Germany, Norway, Spain, Finland, Russia, Romania, Turkey, USA and Canada. It also featured live performances of old and new songs such as Gloves Of Metal, The Crown And The Ring, Hand Of Doom, Hymn Of The Immortal Warrior, Father, God Or Man and many others. Another date and another country were added to Manowar's Death To Infidels World Tour 2010. Manowar was to headline the Masters Of Rock 2010 in Vizovice, Czech Republic on July 16th, 2010. For the first time ever, Manowar was to play in Ukraine headlining the Global East Rock Festival on September 4th, 2010. The band had released Hell On Earth V DVD through Sony partners MRI and RED in Canada and the USA.
More recently, the band has resorted to releasing multiple live and concept albums and videos of its own, as well as other bands, on its own Magic Circle Music imprint. The label portion of its company has also worked with groups like Rhapsody Of Fire and Holy Hell. The latter band featured former drummer Rhino. Joey De Maio produced Jack Starr’s album in 2009 and had it released on Magic Circle. Self-cover band: Manowar was rerecording and rereleasing its Battle Hymns album in 2010. Due for release at the end of November Battle Hymns was issued as Battle Hymns 2011. Replacing Orson Wells was the voice of Christopher Lee. Manowar played its entire debut album, 1982's Battle Hymns, at the band's headlining performance on March 27th, 2011 at O2 Academy in Birmingham, England. The band would also return to the USA and book shows in Russia and Portugal. Former Manowar drummer Scott Columbus died on Monday, April 4th at the age of 54. He was asked to leave Manowar in 2008. Former Manowar guitarist David Shankle joined House Of Holland in 2011. The band announced a UK tour for the autumn. In December of 2011, Manowar cancelled its Forces Of Metal Festival appearance. According to the band, the festival organizer's failure to pay the band’s advance money meant Manowar's headlining performance at Forces Of Metal Festival on June 8th 2012 was officially canceled. Manowar's new album, The Lord Of Steel, was released worldwide on June 16th, 2012 exclusively on iTunes and the band's own online store, The Kingdom Of Steel. The CD would also be included in Metal Hammer.
Manowar is named after ‘Man Of War,’ a 16th to 19th century wooden style of ship used for naval battles given its being equipped with cannons. Such a ship is currently anchored in the harbour of Victoria in Western Canada. The group has consistently garnered a more positive reaction in Europe than in its home country. It has influenced many acts ranging from Majesty to Bathory to Falconer.
Kings Of Metal MMXIV was the name of a new 2014 recording celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of Kings Of Metal by Manowar. It was out in February. In early autumn Manowar cancelled its US tour ostensibly to focus on writing its next album. Manowar cancelled its Loud Park festival appearance previously scheduled for October 18th. Manowar would instead play two concerts at Zepp Diver City in Tokyo on October 29 and October 30. Manowar claimed a Los Angeles dock fire was responsible for the cancellation. Trollhättan's Hjortmosseskolan and Udevalla's Västerskolan youth choirs in Sweden performed with Manowar on the Gods And Kings tour stop at the Nova Arena in that city on February 5th of 2016. Just like Elton John, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest and many others Manowar announced its farewell tour in 2016, which would begin in Germany.
MANOWAR - WARRIORS OF THE WORLD - METAL BLADE
You will either love or hate Manowar or so the cliche goes. In actual fact the man/Manowar relationship is more like a love/hate one. On the one hand, Manowar's loyalty to their sound and the championing of heavy metal over the years is praise-worthy. On the other hand, the rampant cheesiness inherent in many of the topics covered carves at you and brings you down. At this moment the latter is overtaking the former. Musically, more leads would have been good as the sound and feeling this band gets, for example on Swords In The Wind, is impressive. The sound is expensive and loud, although there is the good chance that much of that impeccable and clinical drum sound is a microchip at work. Topicality is where Manowar begins to fall apart. Are they losing it? Nessun Dorma is an operetta for Eric's deceased mom. As much as she probably deserves respect, does Eric realize that people are paying for this? An instrumental called Valhalla (they already did Gates Of Valhalla years ago) is next and while we are at it Warriors of The World is very close, in title, to the other Manowar album Fighting The World. No one can accuse these warriors of abandoning the... world. Later we are treated to tender voices singing, 'Oh I Wish I was In Dixie, Away, Away In Dixieland...' Have the fraughts of the battle made these warriors sentimental? Later and during the Elvis ode it's "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah". What goes on in the minds of four grown men to pay allegiance to metal one minute and then serenade Elvis the next ? "So Hush Little Baby Don't You Cry" and "In Dixieland, where I was Born" continues the tomfoolery. An instrumental called The March is dedicated to the 'father of heavy metal Richard Wagner.' I can see the corpse of the composer hitch a ride outta town on the Valkyrie were his publicist to inform him of his new role as the father of heavy metal. But more importantly, and again, this little melody is counted as a track. Are people to pay for this? Of course, then there are Warriors Of The World United and House Of Death which are respectively dedicated to Nuclear Blast owner Markus Staiger and Metal Blade head Brian Slagel and are quite good. These, and Fight Until We Die, are the best tracks here. They are full-on Manowar with powerful everything. All in all the latest Manowar episode is an LP that should have been an EP and priced accordingly - especially surprising since the band took five years since the last studio album.
MANOWAR - THE DAWN OF BATTLE - NUCLEAR BLAST
To celebrate Manowar's signing to Nuclear Blast records again - this time for a worldwide deal - the label has issued this three-song MCD. The CD features two new songs, The Dawn Of Battle and I Believe. It is good to see a veteran act like Manowar write songs like (the appropriately-titled) The Dawn Of Battle. The fast song blows down the door and the poser and is great metal fun. I Believe is slower, but cool nonetheless. The other song here Call To Arms is taken off the band's last full-length, the below-average Warriors Of The World. The new material is clearly better than most of the material the American poser-killers have recently released and is hopefully a sign of things to come. Despite the praise, the band is completely consistent or monotonous depending on one's perspective. Lines like, " By the sign of the hammer falling/yes Heathens will fall" or "To the defender of the faith I belong" are not show casing Manowar's ex-ploration of newer themes. Then again, who needs another Metallica?
The CD also features a couple of short promotional footages. - Ali "The Metallian"
MANOWAR - THE DAY THE EARTH SHOOK - THE ABSOLUTE POWER (2DVD) - MAGIC CIRCLE MUSIC
Manowar do it big is one way of putting it, The Day The Earth Shook is set at the 2005 Earthshaker Fest where a two-hour plus live concert and a fan convention have resulted in a near 390-minute long double DVD. The headlining show was obviously an expensive one to produce as it is very loud and very big, a testament to Manowar’s attitude and style. The concert features all the previous members of Manowar, Ross The Boss among others, playing songs of their era and makes this particular show as complete a retrospective as any band has come up with. As such every famous, and maybe not so famous song, along with a 200-piece orchestra is featured here and their devoted fans, the thousands present at the festival, and those watching this DVD will certainly appreciate it all. The second DVD is easily one of the most extensive around. It covers many aspects of the 3-day fan convention, like a guitar clinic, a scream competition, a Miss Manowar contest and many many more. An emphasis is also made, through interviews with the band, the band’s 'spiritual adviser' and the production team, on the scope of the show and the care that all involved have made to make it big and explosive. Manowar with their 'we are the loudest, our fans are the best' attitude is one to love or hate but they deliver where it counts. - Anna Tergel
MANOWAR - THE SONS OF ODIN - MAGIC CIRCLE
The Sons Of Odin is a single, but unsurprisingly Manowar have to do it big and turn this into a five-song CD and add a bonus DVD and a poster on top of that too. Two live songs, The Ascension and King Of Kings, are taken from the 2005 Earthshaker Fest recording. The studio tracks are the instrumental Odin, Gods Of War and The Sons Of Odin. As expected all are typical Manowar, meaning spoken grand epic stories accompanied by heavy rhythms and traditional heavy metal solos. The bonus DVD features more from the fan convention that occurred parallel to the Earthshaker Fest. Also included are the rehearsal by the 200-piece orchestra that was part of the said concert, a slide show and a 5.1 surround sound version of the CD. - Anna Tergel
MANOWAR - GODS OF WAR - SPV
There was a time, many many heathen moons ago, when Manowar actually released good music. Not only was the material good in terms of glorifying metal with impressive vocals, guitars and a rhythm section, but also the albums featuring the material in point of fact contained... music. Gods Of War, however, is Manowar doing what it has been doing over the last decade or so, which is essentially throw a repeat of the old stand-bys and unleash it upon its fandom with aplomb. After all, why write music or strive for fresh ideas when the releases sell by the bucket load anyway and are essentially meant as openings for merchandising, touring and white trashy so-called conventions where assorted whores and sluts disrobe to the tune of 100 fat-bellied degenerates swirling near-beer foam?
Gods Of War - the actual album name is 'to be confirmed' at press time for the group has only blessed its fans with runes in and on the album - is yet another such embarrassment. The band that could come up with hair-raising vocals, bass guitar solos and wicked lead guitars need do so no more. Rock Hard, and other sell-out magazines, will dole out the perfect scores anyway, so why bother? It must be a relief not to have to compose songs.
Manowar 2007 is liable to repeat the word 'Valhalla' in this concept at the rate of 6 times per minute per song, have more slow strumming, Classical pieces performed badly, spoken word and badly-narrated elucidations instead of music, focus on semi-balladry popcraft and, as a way of throwing the dog a bone or two, only graces the disc with a minute or two of music here and there. Too bad, Manowar still apparently has it the knack to write a good riff or deliver a harrowing scream or two. How this band calls itself metal (let alone metal’s kings) and avoids putting any metal on its album is a testament’s to society’s stupidity. The fact that the rhythm section is as relevant as art in capitalism or the drum sound is more monotonous than the band’s autopilot narcissism will surely be overlooked by the band’s European groupie entourage.
If you have seen the album’s cover, then you have seen its best part. The band is laughing all the way to the bank, although what the price of embarrassment and social retardation are only the group’s legacy can determine. - Ali “The Metallian”
MANOWAR - GODS OF WAR LIVE - MAGIC CIRCLE
Words cannot describe how much the world needs to be rid of the Neanderthal known as Manowar. Relying on every overwrought power metal cliché in the book, Manowar consistently finds itself laughed at - with good reason - for being the epitome of ridiculous, and rightfully scorned for its brutish misogyny. Add the fact that Manowar puts out live CDs and DVDs at a pace (and with such narcissistic glee) that surely makes KISS jealous and Gods Of War Live acts as yet another waste of time, energy, money and resources from these gorillas (although that comparison is an insult to our evolutionary cousins). Gods Of War Live is, at its core, nothing but Dungeons And Dragons geekery, made by four immensely out of touch losers that don’t realise the rest of us are living in something called the real world. I mean, I don’t know how this band isn’t perpetually embarrassed at itself, these sad forty-somethings prancing around in loincloths and tight leather to laughable effect. When it comes down it, Manowar is part of the reason metal is deprived of the credibility it so desperately deserves... if Manowar really loved metal as much its claims, the band would call it a day and stop making the rest of us look bad. - James Tape