Manowar - _Gods of War_
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Manowar have always been arguably the most self-indulgent band in all of metal... hell, all of -music-, for that matter. For the most part, over the years this stubborn reliance on pompous aesthetics and just general cluelessness has imbued them with a sort of scrappy, underdog camp quality that has held fans in thrall, even if only as a guilty pleasure. Sure, each album was more or less interchangeable, which renders the five years between _Gods of War_ and 2002's _Warriors of the World_ more of a welcome breather than a backlash of _Chinese Democracy_ proportions.Not that Manowar, should they find themselves in a shitstorm over the lack of productivity, would be able to look you in the eye and fall back on Axl's excuse of transcendental perfectionism. On the contrary, _Gods of War_ stands apart as the most half-assed of the band's 20+ year career. The pomposity has, if anything, been ratcheted up to an all time apex; but in so doing, the music has fallen by the wayside. The band's problematic take on the concept album raises suspicions immediately: following not one but two intros -- an instrumental and a spoken word -- we're a good nine minutes into the album before we're graced with an actual song at all. This feat is repeated in the middle of the album, where we basically have another eight minutes of dragged out interludes leading into the not-worth-waiting-for "Sons of Odin". Spoken word intermissions abound throughout the album, with no seeming end to the dicking around with rudimentary orchestral and choral arrangements, impatient expectations then being mercilessly pissed on with one generic power metal song after another.A band of Manowar's ethos can't be said to have lost the plot when that plot was lifted straight out of the trademarket fantasy novel bargain bin in the first place, but with _Gods of War_ they're undeniably testing the mettle of even their most die hard fans. Lacking even one high quality song (well, maybe album closer "Die for Metal", which has nothing at all to do with the rest of the record) and a body of filler that nearly equals the running time of the actual music inherent, Manowar have finally failed to distinguish themselves from the glut of power metal wannabes attempting to steal a bit of their thunder. Hell, I could have just as easily given this album a 5.5 or a 4.5 and they'd have deserved either fucking one; but this close to the dead center of the critical spectrum, is anyone really interested in splitting hairs? Hey, great album cover, though...
(article published 4/25/2007)
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