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Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer

Scott (our Heavy Metal Overlord, long may he reign) sent me this CD. For those of you paying attention to the HAAPs when all this went down, last year I’d requested he grab something available over there for my lovely wife for Christmas, he bought it, I had a bank draft made up, then he couldn’t ship it because perfume is flammable so he had to return it. I sent the draft anyway, said grab a couple of CDs and then do something nice for him and his lovely lady. Nope, he sent a Maiden and Pearl Jam I’d requested and then two HMO-Approved CDs. This is one of them. Whew. I just compressed a month into a paragraph. You’re welcome.

Also interesting to note, from here in Canada, that this American band’s CD was purchased in the UK but printed in Holland. It’s just fun for me to receive discs meant for Euro audiences. I’m a geek. Let me have my fun…

Anyway, this was one of his selections because our HMO is all about the Manowar. And that’s cool. I was excited to find out more…

All Men Play On 10 is a great barroom blues rocker. It just drips metal blues as it chugs along. Right away I notice how clear the sound is, kudos to whomever handled production. Very well done… Animals is a straight-up rocker at a blistering pace. Awesome! Way better than most of the mainstream rock tracks dominating the airwaves in 1984. Wonder if maybe I’d have started the album with this track. Hm. Anyway, from 2:45 on totally ups the ante.

Thor (The Powerhead) is a great tune, really has that epic metal feel to it. Fantastic. Am I the only one who can hear this as a Maiden song? It’s not to knock Manowar and their own identity but I can totally hear Maiden covering this song! At 2:47 when it takes off for the solo… this could be the greatest song Maiden never wrote! Also, that ending is completely insane.

Mountains has a lovely intro (would you call that Spanish guitar, even pitched so low?) which soon takes off into metal fun. The chorus again shifts beat before it all backs off into an electric version of the acoustic intro. This is just a massive, ambitious track. Wow… Sign Of The Hammer takes a punishing pace, once again a Maiden-esque track. What fun, though! I loved this song. Man, that guy on vocals can really wail…

The Oath has an absolutely AWESOME beat and riff, all at a furious tempo. My goodness. How does that drummer’s arms not fall off? Damn! Everything about this track is huge. This may be my favourite song on this record, so far. What a monster!

Thunderpick is a really odd track, off the bat. The guy’s just all over that guitar. It’s quite jarring after the assault that is The Oath. It’s certainly an impressive display of guitar prowess. It’s Spanish in feel (echoes of Mountains, perhaps?). Whatever the case, it’s impressive! Parts of it are weird! Neat! … And it all blends into another of my favourite tracks on this record… Guyana (Cult Of The Damned), which sounds, what, medieval? It builds and becomes a really great rock track. Kudos to the band for coming up with a song titled this way and totally owning it. It has chugging guitars, wailing voals and solos, a friggin’ choir… Wow.

In sum? Take our HMO‘s recommendation and get this record for yourself. It rocks so hard. It’s fun, and it’s metal, it’s highly creative and it’s brilliantly played and produced.

This album may only contain 8 songs, but it plays like a double album, with all it contains. So much afoot, all of it excellent.

Thanks heaps, HMO!! \m/ \m/

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