We’re back in full force in our best to worst article, this time accompanied by those beings bathed in oil wearing nothing more than a badger thong, and who have more heavy metal and attitude in their pinky fingers than you’ll have in your whole mediocre life: Manowar. Created in 1980 in the city of Auburn, New Jersey, the band formed by Joey DeMayo and Ross Friedman (better known by us metalheads as ‘Ross the Boss’) began in a conversation of those two guys on a Black Sabbath tour – for which DeMayo worked as a bass technician – which had Shakin’ Street as an opening band, where Ross the Boss was a guitarist. And the rest, as they say, is history.
With more than 35 years of career and a legion of wet fans closely following them, Manowar is one of the main (if not THE main) responsible for the term “true metal”, known for being the strand of the metal scene that idolizes the real-deal, no-frills heavy metal and massacres those “posers who only want to wear that plastic bullet belt and a depressing jean jacket with patches from Metallica and Iron Maiden” (hey, not my words). So, without further ado, let’s visit this discography and find out what are the best plays of Eric Adams, Joey DeMayo and company.
“Every one of us has heard the call
Brothers of True Metal
We know the power within us has brought us to this hall
There’s magic in the metal there’s magic in us all
Now the world must listen to our decree
We do not turn down for anyone.
Got to make it louder, all men play on ten
If you’re not into metal, you’re not my friend!”
1 – ‘Battle Hymns’ (1982)
“Metal Daze” was Manowar’s first song I heard, and it was love at first audition. ‘Battle Hymns’ is undoubtedly one of the most influential and most respected albums in the history of heavy metal, and it’s no exaggeration to call it timeless and transcendental. From “Fast Taker” to the brilliant “Battle Hymn”, there is nothing to take away or replace in this gold nugget forged by the gods of heavy music themselves. Magnificent.
2 – ‘Hail to England’ (1984)
There were two brilliant Manowar albums in a very short span of time, beginning with this powerhouse. We have 7 songs here, and all 7 are classics; A thunderous performance by one of the greatest vocalists of all time, a boundless virtuoso guitarist who overflowed with talent, a savage and devilish being destroying the drum kit and an intellectual leader at the height of his prose made ‘Hail to England’ easily one of the best efforts by the Americans. A true metal class act.
3 – ‘Sign of the Hammer’ (1984)
The title track alone is enough to put ‘Sign of the Hammer’ in a comfortable position in Manowar’s discography. But here there is much more than the eye can see: excellent production, unique inspiration and – as I said above – the release of not only one, but two albums of the highest quality in a space of less than 4 months make the record one of the best works by the band.
4 – ‘Into Glory Ride’ (1983)
“Warlord,” “Gloves of Metal,” “Gates of Valhalla,” “March of Revenge,” and an extremely dubious album cover with Joey DeMayo dressed as a western Saint Seya and Eric Adams as an Elvis Presley on steroids. What’s not to love?
5 – ‘Louder Than Hell’ (1996)
“What?! Did you drink water from the toilet, Bruno, are you crazy? ‘Louder Than Hell’ better than ‘Kings of Metal’?!”. Yeah dude, I’m as surprised as you are. But analyzing track by track, the period of time that the two albums were released and other factors like performance and instrumental proficiency, ‘Louder Than Hell’ bests the 1988 classic by a few inches. In addition to that, the album holds many themes that would come to be worshiped by fans and critics alike such as “Return of the Warlord”, “The Gods Made Heavy Metal”, “Outlaw” and testosterone-filled “Brothers of Metal”, song that makes every “manowarrior” cry like a baby. Cast the first stone he who never sang that song drunk while hugging an equally-drunk friend in a party.
6 – ‘Kings of Metal’ (1988)
The intro of “Wheels of Fire” shows that Conan’s children were not joking around here. From powerful tunes and epic hymns, to one of the greatest ballads of all time in “Heart of Steel” and the unmistakable, visceral and genius “Hail and Kill”, there’s blood, steel and arrows for every Manowar sceptic in ‘Kings of Metal’.
7 – ‘Warriors of the World’ (2002)
I remember the long – almost never-ending – 6-year wait between ‘Louder Than Hell’ and ‘Warriors of the World’; The expectations were very high and the band would have to really step-up. The album has good quality, but it’s mainly a mix of great songs and several of the so-called fillers. Of course, we have “Call to Arms,” ”House of Death,” and the title track, but we also see strange tunes as well, such as the patriotic “An American Trilogy” and “The Fight for Freedom,”, not to mention the unfortunate adaptation of the famous “Nessun Dorma” by Giacomo Puccini.
8 – ‘The Triumph of Steel’ (1992)
As always, there are great songs in ‘The Triumph of Steel’ like the killer, magnificent and destructive “Metal Warriors”, the great “The Power of Thy Sword” – with an impeccable performance by Eric Adams – and the good ballad “Master of The Wind”. The album, however, fails a little by mixing other elements that couldn’t strike so swiftly, like seen in the simplistic “Burning” and the overly-long “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts”.
9 – ‘Fighting the World’ (1987)
I absolutely adore this play, judge me. I find the first three tracks more “happy metal” than anything Helloween has ever released (those amateurs), but that’s the problem when you want to be an Odin warrior who wets his sword in the blood of virgins and dreams of going to Valhalla: You have to be fucking awesome, not happy and bouncy. There are obviously great tracks here that are considered classic to this day, as the vicious “Violence and Bloodshed,” the catchier and fun title track and the anthem “Black Wind, Fire and Steel”; ‘Fighting the World’ is undoubtedly the most diverse album of Manowar’s career, and the one with the most commercial vein, as a consequence of that.
10 – ‘Gods of War’ (2007)
‘Gods of War’ is a good effort. The problem is that the vocals, bass and the guitar (especially the guitar) don’t fit well with the epic atmosphere addressed on the album, and the songs end up becoming weak and pale. This is further aggravated when we note that the Viking theme was already revisited to exhaustion in the metal scene, and actually made with much more competence by bands that are much smaller and less expressive than Manowar. Their hearts were in the right place, but the execution came out well below expectations.
11 – ‘The Lord of Steel’ (2012)
No surprises here. Horrible production (even more so for a band bragging of having pioneered – in heavy metal – recording tracks with 7.1 Dolby Surround sound), derisive guitar lines and weird melodies make ‘Lord of Steel’ uglier than your Instagram photos, weaker than your determination in life and less expressive than your importance in society.