“Gods Of War” by Manowar

Artist: Manowar
Title: “Gods Of War”
Label: Magic Circle Music
Release Date: 2/26/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 2.5/5

It is time once again to unsheathe your sword and raise it high to glory and honor as the legendary warriors Manowar make their return for the Metal legions everywhere. Their latest album is entitled “Gods Of War” and is a concept record and follows the themes of Odin and Norse legends. It sounds pretty interesting when you think about it since Norse Folklore is so rich and detailed to read about but before I had my own copy I was seeing a lot of mixed press about the album and much of it was leaning on the negative side. Since I had been a fan of the band from way back in the early days I was wondering how such a thing would be possible. It was only after a couple of spins on the changer that I was able to assess where those who found disappointment were actually coming from. The album begins with the pre-requisite symphonic and sweeping opener that Manowar had been employing in recent years, but unlike the band Rhapsody Of Fire, who seem much more adept at Film Score Metal, this opener is simply a ponderous listen. On completion it does not even lead you to a song but to three or four minutes of dialogue that instead of making you eager to know the tale makes you want to skip right to the music. By the time the album hits “King Of Kings” you would expect a thunderous exploding tune but instead find one that is a lot slower than it should have been and while it has a cool chorus about “Gods of Thunder with man and beast being torn asunder” it is not as much a Metal tune as I would have liked to hear. The song gets to the two minute part and more dialogue is introduced right in the middle and that is a mood killer if you asked me. I did like the vocal play during the acapella “Army Of The Dead” and the pounding drive of “Sleipnir”, a song about the legendary eight-legged steed of Odin, but between them is yet more dialogue and commentary and it was starting to make me wonder what the hell I was listening to. I took this as the band trying too hard to tell the tale as opposed to letting the music bring us deeper into the Nordic myths that they were singing about. Eric Adams no longer shrieks as much as he used to so its easy to follow along with the lyrics, so having long comments everywhere you turn seemed a bit of a waste of valuable music space. “Blood Brothers” is pretty much the ballad on the release and sings of camaraderie and allegiance and is very well done, but the up and down nature of the recording really loses momentum at almost every turn. There are no peaks to rise to and instead only smaller hills. The performances of Adams, DeMaio, Columbus and Logan are tight and together despite all of these reservations.

On the ballad’s conclusion there comes yet another symphonic epic which is followed by more dialogue and then finally a song which is okay at best after all that pomp and circumstance. It was during “Sons Of Odin” that I began to feel I was listening to more of a Hard Rock album with some ripping guitar as opposed to an album by a band that often refers to themselves as Kings Of Metal. “Glory Majesty Unity” was an odd inclusion as it is once again dialogue but this time one feels as though they are hearing an army make their creed to the God’s and at five minutes length you are almost are praying for “Gods Of War” to begin. The title track is pretty good as well, but again lacks a suitable level of momentum and instead trudges along like some massive army of soldiers. “Army Of The Dead” returns for part 2 and it’s pretty much the same as the first with the exception of an organ intro that was pretty nice. “Odin” comes as one of the albums closing tracks and I had felt that this might be the winning number of the whole piece that I was waiting for since it focuses on the main character that the tale was written about. Instead it’s another slower tune that uses some pieces that we found on other areas of the album. The tale itself ends with “The Hymn Of The Immortal Warrior” and it’s another slower tune and while it might make the absolute diehard shed a tear, it will leave the more casual Metal fan left scratching their heads. I had felt the urge to read the essay lined out in the enclosed booklet but when I went to do so found it to be written in ancient Nordic runes. In order to read this richly detailed piece of copy by Al Stavola, one needs to go to the Manowar website and download it. Nice move guys but the better choice would have been to do this in reverse by allowing the fans who are more interested in the cultural aspect to download it in rune and leave the rest of us mortals the chance to enjoy it in English. There is a bonus track as well called “Die For Metal” and this was a whole lot of cheese about quitting ones job because their need for Metal is like the eagles need to fly. Come on guys you are so passed the cliché aspect of your career and this makes it look all the more silly when instead you are still capable of legendary work.

Manowar has been a part of Heavy Metal history for decades and have not compromised their style for anyone but with “Gods Of War” I felt that they leave us with a safe album that misses the chance to kick the ass of everyone who listens to it. It’s hard to believe that the same guys who delivered “Battle Hymns” and “Sign Of The Hammer” would be capable of doing such a lackluster job. I am sure that the Manowar fanatic would still enjoy this but I also feel that they would want just a little more as well. It’s not a terrible listen but it is just marginally over a good one. While I did not rate this as low as others I had seen there is the chance that some diehards will want my head for it. That’s ok because my friend gave me a sword when I moved into my apartment as a house warming gift. Come to contest me and perhaps Valhalla awaits you  .

Track Listing:
1. Overture To The Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors
2. The Ascension
3. King Of Kings
4. Army Of The Dead, Part I
5. Sleipnir
6. Loki God Of Fire
7. Blood Brothers
8. Overture To Odin
9. The Blood Of Odin
10. Sons Of Odin
11. Glory Majesty Unity
12. Gods Of War
13. Army Of The Dead, Part II
14. Odin
15. Hymn Of The Immortal Warrior
16. Die For Metal (bonus)

Official Website: www.manowar.com

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