Never stopping for what's waiting soon will show
And this the last time looking back I'll see my home
For he awaits me reaching for my soul"
One Word Review: True
After the immensely epic second album, Into Glory Ride, Hail to England takes a more direct approach. The songs are shorter and the album comes in at only 33 minutes. The length of an album doesn't always matter, but here the album falls a little short because it only has 6 real songs. Still, those songs are all classics in my book, jam-packed with glorious Heavy Metal, played with an intensity, feeling and power that only Manowar can conjure.
Eric, Joey, Scott and Ross were a tightly knit unit and with simple means and a budget of $15.000 they entered the studio in 1983 to record not one, but two albums at once. And magic they did create...
It is interesting that Manowar recorded these songs at the same time as they recorded the Sign of the Hammer album, as there is a big difference between the two albums, both in sound and atmosphere.
That the production budget wasn't very big is evident a few times, especially during Kill with power. It is as if the music was just too much to take in for the recording system and so, short beeps are scattered around the song. Also the drum sound on the whole album is completely over the top, but cool in its own special way.
Many people like to patronize Manowar, but there is no denying that they have something very special. It is called Spirit, Heart and Passion. This is something they have always been able to capture in their music. If Heavy Metal in its purest form is what you want, then Hail to England will deliver that very thing. Each of the four band members put on inspired performances. Especially Ross the Boss' instinctive, improvised way of playing guitar solos, creates some amazing moments. These wild solos just fit the music perfect.
It is clear that Joey DeMaio has a sense of humor. I'm talking about the crazy three minute bass solo, Black Arrows, which is a statement from the band and marks the first appearance of Joey's famed piccolo bass. It doesn't hold any musical interest to me anymore and I skip it each time around.
Now onto the real meat...
A vengeful mood is set right from the start with Blood of my enemies. Slowly building up intensity, it does not take long for the first climax to arrive, as the air is ripped apart by one of Eric's ear-splitting screams and the song rides off into the sky. A cool, driving riff rules the verses and it is impossible not to bang your head, while singing along to this song. Check out that guitar solo! Magic indeed. The chorus is majestic and in the final chorus, when Eric Adams unfolds the true power of his voice, I can only stand amazed. This song shows Manowar at their best, creating a hell-raising atmosphere, that sucks the breath from your body, but in the end leaves you energized and ready to charge off to whatever task needs doing.
Each dawn I die has a distinct mystical atmosphere going for it that gets me every time. The guitar riff, the way the bass suddenly enters the sound and the way Eric sings this song makes it stand out. 20 years after hearing the song for the first time, I still find the lyrics strangely intriguing; as if each verse is inspired by a different mythological tale. This mystical quality along with the way the song is performed gives it a special charm. Definitely the "Conan" song of the album.
Kill with power is a live favorite and it is difficult not to get caught up in the speed and energy that bursts from this song, even today. Take the absolutely tremendous vocal performance by Eric, mix it with an untamed and barbaric guitar solo and ground-shaking drum work, and you have a song that accomplishes what it sets out to do. It kills.
The unstoppable riff of Hail to England drives the song home. It is a very simple song and that Manowar makes this song work so well, is a testament to their amazing ability to create something out of very little. The guitar solo has a great way of flowing out of the music and then back in again.
Army of The Immortals is a love song to all the fans and it gets its message across very well. I love the heavy riff and the whole feel of the song. The way the song ends is pure metal mayhem and over time this song has become immortal itself.
As usual the last song on a Manowar album is a true spectacle. Bridge of Death is among Manowar's greatest songs ever and an experience that you will come back to for a long time. Joey's wild bass playing sets a sinister and foreboding mood in the opening seconds, slowing down to a gentle atmospheric entrance and as Eric's voice softly floats into the sound, the stage is set for a truly epic song. The way Eric sings this song is incredibly stirring and beautiful. The journey goes through many stages and climaxes in a hellish speech that will definitely surprise those, who hear it for the first time. From this moment Eric Adams carries the song the rest of the way in a most impressive way. In fact Manowar don't just cross the Bridge of Death here, they charge it head on, lay it completely to waste in the process and stand victorious in the end.
Though short, Hail to England is an outstanding album, but overall it lacks some of the creative sparks and ideas that made Into Glory Ride into something completely unique. Be sure to grab the Silver Edition of the album, which was released by Metal Blade in 2001. It has a better sound and the booklet contains lots of interesting information from the band as well as several pictures.
Hail to England is vintage Manowar and that should be enough to send you to the record store if you don't already own this classic.
Written By Steen
Online: Friday, October 5, 2012