Though the cover to Manowar's 10th studio full-length album has something to appeal to those of any sexuality, I have spent the past two years burdened with a question that burns my mind and threatens the delicate balance of the universe...
Who gets the fifth chick, Manowar?
Who does she belong to? Odin? Thor? Does the band split her, or are they all 'community' to be shared, and thus the unbalanced numbers mean for naught. I may never know the answer to this. For all I know, none of the men and women adorning this album cover have any interest in those of the opposite sex.
Tits, ass and pectorals aside, Gods of War was a pretty daring dash to restore the faith of the band's massive fandom and re-enter a world loaded with spastic, corny power metal bands like Dragonforce who are amusingly even more dorky than the Kings. The ninth album, Warriors of the World, may have had a herald or two of memorable material sure to fire up the band's live sets, but they had been producing fairly mediocre (and fully overrated) work since the great year of 1984. Oh, fans will laud every accolade possible upon the ironic, iconic figureheads, but let's face facts. A lot of the band's charm of the early 80s was lost in cut and paste self-tributes to sate a rather numb crowd, hyped on Budweiser and cocaine and the steam of their own wind. Gods of War goes quite a distance to restore this, but you will have to dig a little, beyond the overinflated narrative of the album, which will probably have you in stitches.
For instance, you might have to look beyond the title to the pompous opening track, "Overture to the Hymn of the Immortal Warriors", and also the rather lackluster, symphonic music which is more fitting for a carousel than a head banging. Oh yeah, it's SIX FUCKING MINUTES LONG. And when it ends, and you're ready for the guitars to rip and Eric Adams to scream and blow your mind and cherry out...you get NOTHING. You get another 2:30 minute symphonic piece titled "The Ascension", though at least Adams sings on it. And then, at long last, "King of Kings", which is so much different than "Kings of Metal", you get a pretty standard Manowar number, with choppy guitars that pummel alongside a steady rockin' beat and Adams' dirty mid range. "Army of the Dead Part I" is another intro with Adams soaring across it, and "Sleipnir" has even more of the goofy narrative, but at least it ends in a little metal thunder.
With "Loki God of Fire", we get the first worthwhile Manowar song, splitting the sky with some burnin' rhythms and a nice little break in the bridge, with some speed pickin'. "Blood Brothers" is a power ballad, but it's hardly offensive, as Adams can carry such a song and have every lighter swaying and male or female zipper longing to burst. "Overture of Odin" is more symphony. "The Blood of Odin" is MORE symphony, with narrative. "Sons of Odin", well that's a metal track, with a plodding bass, great solos, and some powerful (if cheesy) anthemic vocal melodies. "Glory Majesty Unity" is another symp...alright, fuck it.
These are the remaining metal songs on this album: "Gods of War" is huge and totally lame, but I wound up smiling anyway, because they build such a glorious cornball atmosphere that I'm surprised Meat Loaf doesn't bust out in the middle with some of his howling. "Odin", just Odin, mind ye, and the fourth track on the album to contain the name Odin, is one of the better tracks here, though the band seems afraid to really pick up the pace. "Hymn of the Immortal Warriors" is part bombast, but does evoke a little metal near the climax. Bonus track "Die for Metal" is totally lame and totally awesome, suck on that Hammerfall! Of course, it's only considered a bonus track because it isn't part of the Gods of War concept, which is to libate Odin and Thor and every other generic Norse concept, hammering them into stupidity. And of course, it cannibalizes their own past lyrics song titles, but it does at least rock.
They said hold your head up high
Raise your fist up in the air
Play Metal louder than Hell
Louder than Hell
Manowar devotees are so blindly obedient that the band is far beyond criticism. As for the rest of us, you can probably enjoy this album if you:
1. Shut off your brain.
2. Forget all standards (should happen as a result of #1)
3. Have a ready supply of beer and/or cocaine.
4. Stop wondering about that fifth nekkid broad on the cover.
Highlights: bound to occur whenever the 'Kings of Metal' get the brilliant idea to actually play metal
Verdict: Win [7/10] (eight legs and magic runes)