The Lord of Steel

Written by: EW on 27/11/2012 00:09:59

Ahh, Manowar, you bunch of ridiculous, self-glorious egomaniacs, how I've loved and loathed you. Having deemed planet Earth too puny for his ego, Joey DeMaio has relocated his legendary metal band to the dark side of the moon where there are neither sound limits to adhere to nor posers to stand in the way of his plans for total metal domination. The first result of this admittedly unusual recording location is "The Lord of Steel", an album named by the random selection of metal-sounding titles aligned to metal-sounding nouns, which when you consider they've already used "Kings of Metal", "Gods of War", "King of Kings" and "Warriors of the World" for past albums/songs leaves it about the most metal title left going short of plumping for "Kings And Gods Of War, Metal, Steel, The World And Everything Else".

Now, it would appear the zero gravity atmosphere of the moon has inversely weighed down on the sound of Joey's bass tone for this, the Kings/Gods etc 11th studio release ("Battle Hymns MMXI" does not count), as it is positively BOOMING. Think not of the rumble of Lemmy, or the blower bass of Voivod, this is bass distortion like never before, but sadly as I do not live on the moon nor own a remote mountain-top location where "Manowarriors" et al can be blasted for all they're worth I shall never know if this tactic really works as its recorder intended. Instead I shall declare it the very definition of OTT self-aggrandisement and let you judge for yourself.

What of the songs I hear you ask? Well, for a band who have never exactly pushed the boat out with their compositions they have this time dragged the vessel so far inland it has become a museum piece to landlubbers. Guitarist Karl Logan and new drummer Donnie Hamzik compete to see who can be the most boring and uninspired - straight from the title track opening the album their tones sound weak and toothless, as if they've been phoned in at the last minute. Hamzik's beats for the faster songs on the album - "Lord of Steel", "Expendable", "El Gringo" - are monumentally uninspired, while Logan, who has always shown a knack for a good riff or melody despite being the Robin to DeMaio's Batman, does very little of note.

Musically most of the tracks sound like pale imitations of past Manowar glories, ripping off their historic victories while adding an awful bass sound. "Black List" sounds like a reject from the "Warriors of the World" era and takes an age in order to never get going; "Expendable" harks back to "Fighting the World"'s feel; while "Hail, Kill And Die" is so far from the classic "Hail And Kill" and a desperate attempt to reference it lyrically as to be embarrassing. Save for Eric Adams' vain attempts to inject some passion there is no saving what sounds like a band still rehearsing and fine-tuning their songs for the final album recording. Piercing the veil of unending criticism, it’s not all bad – "Born In A Grave" and "Touch The Sky" have a fist-pumping tempo and simple effectiveness about them that would not make it onto a Manowar ‘best-of’ but at least amid the muddled thinking on offer give a brief opportunity for enjoyment.

On "The Lord of Steel" Manowar have attempted to become one of their hordes of German imitators - Sacred Steel, Metalium, Metal Force, Stormwarrior etc - but failed in doing so. The songwriting is stodgy, predictable and formulaic and the bass and guitar tones in particular are appalling, leaving me wondering who are the deaf journalists behind the quotes declaring this "flawlessly heavy" and "a brutal and unstoppable force of molten metal". For almost any other band this would be the death-knell on a glorious career but with Manowar and their outsized egos I'm worried it will only go further to encourage them their fight is a true and worthy one against 'posers' like me who just don't get it. Talking from the perspective of a long-time Manowar fan, I do get it, I just don't want to accept it.

Download: Born In A Grave, Touch The Sky
For The Fans Of: Heavy Metal (posers leave the hall)
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 19.10.2012
Magic Circle Music

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