Manowar - Gods of War
Introduction

What was foreshadowed on the Sons of Odin EP has now become a full reality. Manowar have created their most ambitious and innovative work yet. This will be the first installment in their Gods of War saga. No one quite knows what path the future will take but each chapter is supposed to deal with a different War God and this first chapter takes on Odin of Nordic Mythology. This theme is perfect for the band.

In case you don't know, Manowar play Heavy Metal and they have stayed true to their word for more than 25 years, building a legacy of outstanding albums and creating a niche that is their own. This is their tenth studio album.

For this, their first concept album, Manowar have embraced orchestration and narration. The orchestration succeeds beyond any doubt but the narration fails on some levels. I will get back to that. If you're thinking Rhapsody now I don't blame you. That comparison however, is unfair. Manowar have managed to keep their sound intact, while harnessing the power and the deeply emotional element an orchestra can bring to the mix, the end result being music which is stirring and embodied with a spiritual essence.

Gods of War does not come easy. It is an album that needs many listens to flourish, but with time it shows its true quality. I have given the album 1½ month to sink in and counless listens before making my final judgement and writing this review.

One important fact: The louder this album is heard, the bigger is its impact. This is one album which is not meant to be heard through headphones.


The Music

Overture to the Hymn of The Immortal Warriors is a splendid orchestral prelude to the album. This piece introduces several themes which are later referenced in other songs. Recurring themes is something this album utilizes in an extraordinary way.
Ok, story time. I clearly remember my first listen to the album. On the evening of February 22 I was planning to attend the virtual release party of Gods of War, due to be held at midnight. At two hours to midnight I received an email that the whole album had been made available for purchase online. After 20 minutes of downloading, drooling and waiting the album was mine. As I sat down and this music started flowing from my speakers I looked out the window from my 4th floor apartment to see snow, falling gently down from the dark sky, illuminated by the light of the street lamps on its way to earth. This calm setting was perfect for Overture... to unfold and as the choir entered the sound a very special feeling of peace and tranquility descended on my living room. Just a timeless moment right there.
Overture... shows that Joey is capable of composing some spellbinding orchestral music.

The Ascension introduces and builds tension for King of Kings. Joey DeMaio's narration is first introduced here. The "Wow! moment" comes as Eric Adams' voice slices through the atmosphere with incredible clarity, control and above all, Power. It will never cease to amaze me how awe-inspiring Eric Adams' voice is here. I feel the need to sing along, guide an imaginary orchestra and hold my hands to the sky in reverence every time this passage comes along. It is simply filled with spirit.

The first thing that hit me as King of Kings flew off, besides the raw power, pounding drums and superb drive, was the fact that the production was quite different than on the single, which accompanied the Hell on Earth IV DVD. The sound is alltogether darker and more compact here with the bass being more up-front. Joey has a clean, warm bass sound and it suits the music well.
What started out as a somewhat generic song when I first heard it on the single has turned into a superb song and one of many album highlights. The only thing I often wish for is more or wilder guitar detail in the verses. This would have made the song perfect.

All the songs that have appeared on earlier releases are presented here in different versions. The most obvious difference in King of Kings is the different guitar detail in the verse after the guitar solo and the voice effects that have been added to the verse sections. It is very hard to decide which version I like best. It is a killer song no matter the version.

Karl Logan really comes to his own on this album and proves that he is a brilliant guitarist. When he is set free he roams wild with an incredible flair. All his solos are highlights on the album. If only he was set free more often.

Army of the Dead Part I has, as far as I can tell, Eric singing A capella. The result is stirring and majestic. It is like a heaven-sent choir of Eric!

Through the album narrative parts are used to build tension and momentum for the actual songs. That is certainly the case with Sleipnir, a personal favorite. I love the way Eric sings the first verse in a low voice, building an incredible tension, which is let loose soon after. The second verse is then sung with superior force.
Sleipnir has a fist pumping chorus that is easily remembered and can stand many repetitions; i.e. it doesn't matter that the eight-legged horse starts running in circles after being submitted to Karl's guitar solo supreme.

Loki God of Fire enters the fray without hesitation. Eric makes this strong and intense song into something special with a devoted vocal performance. Notice the way the guitar riff rises and falls through the song along with Eric's voice. I tend to view Loki... as the bastard son of a wild one-night affair between The Demon's Whip and King. I can understand that he is slightly miffed. That was a compliment by the way.

Blood Brothers captures the essence of friendship in a most touching and relatable way. It is one of those Manowar songs that feels larger than life. The band has made an immortal ballad that stands alongside "Heart of Steel", "Master of the Wind" and "Mountains". Eric's singing gives the song heart and an unbreakable spirit that makes it soar to the highest mountain peak and beyond. Karl's guitar solo brings out the needed emotion as well.

Sons of Odin has a brilliant way of building intensity until the final chorus pushes everything to the limit. There is a very special groove to the whole song, most evident during a passage like "Souls full of thunder, hearts of steel" at 2:04. This line is perfectly delivered on top of the heavy background. I have to mention the seriously wicked guitar solo as it leads perfectly to the last verse. With it comes the perfect delivery of the line "This day men will die". As the choir then enters the song for the last part the result is completely overpowering. A stunning moment.
Compared to the EP version this album version is more powerful, utilizing the choir much better in the last part of the song.

Glory Majesty Unity brings a surprising flashback to the days of Kings of Metal. This narrator (R.I.P.) has a voice that commands attention from the first word spoken and he holds it for the duration of his tale. I wonder of this is a new recording or one from the Kings of Metal era.

Gods of War has a new beginning compared to the version on The Sons of Odin EP and it succeeds in transferring the intensity over from Glory Majesty Unity. Gods of War is an incredible piece of music. The arrangement and orchestration bring a real mystical atmosphere and a drive that slowly but surely rolls over you like an unstopable force. I simply love the way the orchestra and band play together, bringing an unprecedented heaviness to the music. Karl's solo and Eric's vocals are again highlights. The song ends in a huge crescendo and several screams.
One thing I don't understand though is the need to put effects on Eric's voice as is done in the final chorus. That is a so non non heinous act.
Gods of War is not a mere song, it is an exercise in how to combine Heavy Metal with classical music. It is a marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Odin, the song, harbors a devastating intensity that is never set free, but used to give the song an acute feeling of might. Eric Adams puts on the performance of a lifetime here. His voice is so all encompassing that I stand amazed. Karl's short guitar solo wonderfully leads to the soaring passage, beginning with "Raise thy weapons on this day", where Scott's drums and Eric's voice simply continue to rise and rise until the atmopshere becomes unbearable. The last scream is the release.

Gods of War, the album often feels like an agonizing wait for the next song. The album continues to rise all the way through, reaching its thrilling climax with the final song, Hymn of the immortal warriors. It is a truly royal song that brings the album full circle. As Eric and choir sings "Take thy shields, take thy swords" a spectacular feeling arises. Then the "Rise brother, rise..." part... Ok, I lack words and I have run out of adjectives. This is simply a divine song. That is, except for the narration bit in the middle.


The Narration

Gods of War is a shining diamond with one fatal flaw. Joey DeMaio's narration, which I have deliberately not commented on until now. Joey is not convincing and instead of completing the album he sadly cracks open the otherwise fantastic atmosphere. It is so very very sad that they did not get a convincing narrator for the whole album. No matter how much I respect Joey DeMaio's musical abilities I cannot get myself to applaud his narration.
If it works for you or not will be a personal thing but every time Joey appears he tears me out of the atmosphere. After so many listens to the album I have succumbed to dubbing him The Annoying One (in true Buffy-spirit). Here are a few specific reasons why his narration does not work for me.

  • Joey's voice is instantly recognisable and makes a connection to the real world at once.
  • His voice has been applied with several effects. Big red warning signs should have appeared when this was deemed necessary. It makes his narration feel much too contrived.
  • In The Blood of Odin he tells a story that is both told in the booklet introduction and in the song Odin. Not necessary on the album. It disrupts the flow.
  • The ending of Sons of Odin tells a story which is then repeated directly afterwards in Glory Majesty Unity. Not necessary on the album.
  • Joey's voice is not commanding enough. He puts way too much emphasis on dramatic pauses and pronouncation of specific words instead of the general tone and flow of his voice. The end result is unconvincing.

The problems with Joey's narration become more apparant with Glory Majesty Unity where the other narrator takes over (name withheld to not spoil the surprise). This second narrator simply blows Joey's performance out of Valhalla's Hall. His voice commands attention and holds it with a completely spellbinding performance.

I did make an edited version of the album without the narration, but it became apparent at once that there was something missing. The one area where Joey's narration succeeds is in creating tension for the song to come. In the end I can live with the narration just fine. It is just very very unfortunate that this part of the album is not as perfect as the rest. An album that could have been a masterpiece is "reduced" to a near perfect acomplishment.


Conclusion

I bought the limited edition of the album and it is well worth the extra price. Enclosed in a sheet metal case is a thick black leatherbound book, holding the cd, an extra dvd with interviews etc. and the booklet. Manowar have taken the concept through to the end by writing the booklet completely in runes. You can use the added translation guide to decipher the introduction or you can take the poser path and download the English booklet Manowar_GodsOfWar-Book.pdf ">here (As did I). The dvd is nothing special but it does have a nice interview section and an interesting look at how a manowar shirt is made. The packaging is among the best I have ever experienced. The leather bound booklet-styled packaging is thick, heavy and highly impressive.

This review has somehow become twice as long as intended, but as Manowar, I have a tendency to go overboard with things I am passioned about.

Manowar show that they still have it in them to create their masterpiece. Moments of pure magical perfection stand side by side with moments of atmosphere shattering self indulgence. With a little fine tuning the next album could be that masterpiece. Gods of War comes very close.

Written by Steen
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Show all reviews by Steen

Ratings

Steen: 8.5/10

Members: 8.5/10 - Average of 1 ratings.



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RevelationZ Comments


Comment by VonSeux (Anonymous) - Sunday, April 8, 2007
Everyone shall make an make an edited version of the album without the narration.


;)


Comment by metalman (Anonymous) - Monday, April 9, 2007
found this cd boring



Comment by EX FAN (Anonymous) - Monday, April 9, 2007
FUCK YOU MANOWAR!!!!
I WAS LOVE YOU BEFORE THIS ALBUM.
THIS ALBUM IS COPY ALL BEFORE ALBUMS AND THIS IS NOTHING NEW.
YOU FUCKED YOUR OLD FANS BUT YOU BRING NEW KIDS FAN WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT IS REAL METAL MUSIC.
THIS ALBUM IS FOR KIDS.

MY RATING IS 3/10 AND THIS 3 POINTS IS JUST FOR NAME MANOWAR.



Comment by Dimitris Zaras (Anonymous) - Wednesday, April 11, 2007
i love this album.i give it a 9/10

HAIL TO THE KINGS
EVERYONE WHO DOEST LIKE THIS ALBUM IS NOT A TRUE FAN.
F*CK YOU ALL...EAT SH*T


Comment by Pohanko (Anonymous) - Friday, April 13, 2007
I can't belive what a shit of album.
So many intros and is so long and boring.
There was just 2 good song: Sleipnir and Loki God Of Fire but nothing special.

Manowar you chose very bad road and many old fans say that new album is shit and that you fucked old fans.
Triumph Of Steel is the last album who is rating 10/10.

You fucked us very very good...



Comment by Soundchaser (Anonymous) - Thursday, April 19, 2007
What a crap!!!!! this album really stinks!!!!


Comment by Jorn (Anonymous) - Friday, April 20, 2007
Geez, this is a useless radioplay and not even worth mentioning it. Manowar fools their fans and robbs them. Manowar deserves to die for Metal, hopefully this was the band's last fart.


Comment by Black Heart (Anonymous) - Monday, April 23, 2007
Very very bad album!!!

Warriors Of The World is for listening who is just good album but new is shit!




Comment by Maverick (Anonymous) - Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If you already got the Sons of Odin EP - do not boy this album! The only two good songs on this album are already released there...
It is unbeleavable that this is what Manowar achieved i five years time... embarrasing it the word! And the thing they said that "if you don't like this album - you don't like manowar" is just incredibly stupid!


Comment by HammerDown (Anonymous) - Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Manowar you fucked fans! I'can't belive.
Manowar die in hearts of fans forever.
All old bands doing shit of albums and Maiden last album is shit.
IT'S TIME FOR NEW METAL REVOLUTION!


Comment by Steel prophet. (Anonymous) - Thursday, April 26, 2007
I think this album is great.I am fan of manowar since Hail to England,1984.Manowar,even on a bad day ,with is not the case here,is far superior to any current band today.


Comment by Dragon (Anonymous) - Monday, April 30, 2007
MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR, MANOWAR,
MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,MANOWAR,.........
........ HAIL TO KILL.............




Comment by Claus Bondam (Anonymous) - Thursday, May 3, 2007
UUhmmmm Manowar.......... I just love their macho-man style!

They make my underpants sweaty.


Comment by Kizmah (Anonymous) - Saturday, May 19, 2007
A total disapointment! The album is underwhelming to say the least. All the narrations and intros ruin the flow completely and there are only two really good tracks here (Gods of War and Odin) The rest is pretty much filler.

Five years of waiting and we get this... I fear for my love for the band if this is the path they have chossen.


Comment by Komnenos (Anonymous) - Friday, June 8, 2007
It pains me deeply to say this as a Manowar fan, but this album is dogshit. Four songs ( of which 2 are good) + a bonus track are all there really is on this album. What were they thinking? Is this the same band that made Triumph of Steel? Terrible! I returned the CD the next day...


Comment by ivan (Anonymous) - Friday, July 6, 2007
i think, gods of war is the best album that manowar ever made


Comment by verdalack (Anonymous) - Sunday, July 29, 2007
I have been a true metal head for over 25 years, a Manowar fan most of that time, and i stay up to date with several euro power and death metal bands. LISTEN TO ME ALL TRUE METAL HEADS> King of Kings is one of the best metal tunes i've heard in a long time!!! This tune will smash you to the ground like a sledgehammer would smash a flea!!!The rest of the album is just a back-drop for this one song and thats all. You don't need the album, just this song. The few other songs on there are average. MANOWAR should stop experimenting with cathedral sounds and do what they do best...a full album of TRUE POWER MUSCLE METAL TUNES!!!











Review by Steen

Released by
Magic Circle Music - 2007

Tracklisting
1. Overture to the hymn of the immortal warriors
2. The ascension
3. King of kings
4. Army of the dead, Part I
5. Sleipnir
6. Loki God of fire
7. Blood brothers
8. Overture to Odin
9. The blood of Odin
10. The sons of Odin
11. Glory majesty unity
12. Gods of war
13. Army of the dead, Part II
14. Odin
15. Hymn of the immortal warriors
16. Die for metal (Bonustrack)


Style
Powerful Wagner Metal

Related links
Visit the band page

Manowar - Official Website

Manowar - German Defenders of Steel

Other articles
The Triumph of Steel - (Tommy)

Warriors of the world - (Steen)

Warriors Of The World - (Tommy)

Band information - (Steen)

Into glory ride - (Steen)

Live At KB Hallen, Copenhagen - November 28th, 2002 - (Tommy)

The Dawn of Battle (Single) - (Steen)

Interview with Karl Logan - (Tommy & Steen)

Fire and Blood - (Steen)

Battle Hymns - (Steen)

Hell on Earth Part III - (Steen)

Hail to England - (Steen)

Sign Of The Hammer - (Tommy)

Hell On Earth Part IV - (Steen)

The Sons of Odin - (Steen)

The Day The Earth Shook - The Absolute Power - (Steen)

Live with Rhapsody of Fire and HolyHell in Germany, March 2007 - The Tour Report - (Steen)

Fighting The World - (Steen)

Gods of War - (Alanna)

Live At Birmingham O2 Academy, March 27th 2011 - (Stuart)

Hell On Earth - Part I (DVD) - (Steen)



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