Devil’s Review: Manowar – The Lord of Steel

Manowar is one of the first bands I seriously listened to back when I first was getting into Metal.  Into Glory Ride still is one of my all time favorite albums and was the one that got me hooked on them back in the early 80s.  Manowar, though, have a somewhat spotty history, with concerts canceled at the last-minute, many years between albums, questionable marketing strategies, unkept promises, the weird “the world is out to get us” speeches during concerts, and apparent dictator like control of their official message board.  I love the band’s music, but the other stuff (shenanigans as a co-worker would put it) I could do without.  I participate on Fanowar, where we fans can vent our true feelings without being crushed by a moderator.  Well, here with The Lord of Steel we have the 11th long-awaited offering from the self-proclaimed Kings of Metal, 5 years after their last album, and their 5th in 20 years after cranking out their first 6 albums in 7 years.  Not exactly prolific.

The first thing that really strikes me about this album is the production – and not in a positive way.  Manowar (and Joey Demaio, in particular), normally pride themselves on creating albums with top-notch production values.  On The Lord of Steel the bass is overpowering and actually a bit distorted – quite disappointing to my ears.  Additionally, the lyrical content is the Power Metal cheese one would expect from Manowar (though they have had some outstanding lyricism – Guyana, Achilles).  On a couple of more positive notes, Eric Adams continues to set the gold standard for Metal singers, though his upper range is definitely decreasing with time.  His lower voice, though, is still powerful and instantly recognizable.  His performances are always superb and one of the primary reasons I lament the lack of musical output from the band over the last 20 years – how much more could we have gotten?  The album is also the return of drummer Donnie Hamzik, having appeared only on the debut album, Battle Hymns.  Sounds like he has been practicing!

After 5 years, I am frankly a bit disappointed in The Lord of Steel.  There are certainly some tracks of significance here like the up tempo title track; the salute to the fans, Manowarriors; Expendable, a cool, heavier track, a nice scream or two from Adams; El Gringo has some nice galloping guitars, an interesting bridge and a memorable chorus, disappointingly has a fadeout; Megachessy Hail, Kill and Die wraps up the album, rehash of every album title and many of their songs, still a decent song.

Other songs that just don’t stand up to my (probably unfair) demanding standards are Righteous Glory (ballad that goes on too long – ho-hum), Touch the Sky (mid-paced and doesn’t really go anywhere – kind of pedestrian for Manowar), Black List (plodding, just drags on for 7 minutes – and another fadeout! NOOOOOOO! At least 4 on the album.).

With a couple of other kind of filler tracks, The Lord of Steel comes in at 10 tracks.  Unfortunately only about half of it is really good.  I have to say I am mostly disappointed in this work, particularly after the promising Thunder In The Sky EP from 2009.  After 5 years, I was definitely expecting more.  Here is the highlight of the album for me – the title track:

Ultimately I am a bit disappointed in the album we got.  I was hoping for more from the band, especially in terms of quality, not necessarily quantity.  I feel let down.  After a couple of listens, most of the album is just not that memorable.  No real striking melodies, riffs, solos, or choruses.  That is atypical of Manowar, as all of their previous albums have at least several good memorable songs.  I am just not feeling it on The Lord of Steel.  I can only hope Manowar rights the ship soon, because time is running out on them.

I hear the sound in a METAL way.

-Harley

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9 responses to “Devil’s Review: Manowar – The Lord of Steel

  1. Thanks Steff. I have been a fan for almost 30 years now, even traveled to Germany to see them. I am a fan. This album, however, is probably their weakest.

  2. Unfortunately, yes. That is the production value I was referring to in the review. The guitars, drums and vocals are all clear, but the bass is fuzzed out during the whole thing. Disappointing.

  3. This review is spot on.
    When I first started the album, I felt like I was in for a very promising ride. And for me it was for a while, but the second half just fell flaccid. The most surprising thing for me was, I’m surprised this album was so short. Yes, I’d rather have the quality over quantity, also. But after such a long absence in albums? The ten songs should have been outstanding.
    However, I still feel like this is the most metal we’ve gotten since Louder Than Hell. Was there even metal on Gods of war besides Loki? Hardly. And half of Warriors of the World was just boring.
    You can tell that ManowaR was trying to change things up a bit. But it feels more forced than anything. Almost like adding that weird hook just for the sake of adding a weird hook.
    Even though the production screams ManowaR’s cult leader, Joey DeMaio, I think the drums and guitar are what stand out. But they are not given room to shine.
    But hey – I guess it’s refreshing to hear some songs that don’t stop in the middle to give a speech.
    I guess I’m just a little bit disappointed. Because I really am a huge ManowaR fan. They’re capable of so much more.

  4. I have given this CD a good listen I enjoy it and there is reasons I enjoy it, being an old Metal head I still enjoy a good blast from the past. Could of they done more sure, but for a band pushing 60 and still recording its cool, The sad thing about Manowar people in America and Canada will probably never get to see them, unless they book a plane ticket to Europe.
    Lastly this CD will sound great live and that is what this cd is about so I am going to say I like this CD but keep listening to it – it will grow on you

  5. I think you are right that some of these songs will be good live, but on the recorded version, none of them grab me the way at least a few songs do on all of their previous recordings. The songwriting feels like it’s being done by 60 year olds – not what I expect from Manowar. I have seen them both in the States (2005) and in Europe (2008). I greatly regret not having caught them live earlier in their career.

  6. Give it a chance and it grows on you.Gone from thinking it was very ordinary to absolutely loving it.The louder it is the more it grows on you.Trust me.

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