Born to live forevermore
The right to conquer every shore
Hold your ground and give no more"
One Word Review: Powerful
That would be one way to describe this album.
Magnificent, Essential, Classic, Majestic would be others.
But enough of the superlatives. Here's another, more lengthy description...
Battle hymns is Manowar's debut album and it established them right away as something special. It is a classic and one of the great and important Heavy Metal releases of the eighties. Today it still shines pure Metal, Power and Coolness.
The album has both straight ahead rockers, powerful anthems, epic masterpieces and even a bass adaption of Rossini's classic William Tell Overture. There should be something to satisfy everyone. Every song is delivered Manowar style, with that extra burst of power and confidence that gives them that special feel.
For a long time I lived with the somewhat thin sound of the original release. That was until the splendid Silver edition arrived. If you haven't got it yet, then go and buy the Silver edition of Battle Hymns, not only has the sound quality been magically improved, but it also includes some very funny and insightful liner notes from the band members as well as pictures and lyrics. I wish I had a poster size picture of the one with Joey and Eric on rollerskates. The warning on the back is also hilarious.
Battle Hymns was re-recorded and re-released in 2011 with the current members of the band. If you haven't heard Battle Hymns yet, then start with the original version. This is where the magic is.
Death tone sort of sets the image of the band straight right from the start. The sound of Harley's speeding into the night along with a simple, yet driving riff kicks of the song. The Kiss my ass attitude that Manowar have become known for is apparant as soon as the first verse has been sung. There is an air of nostalgia about this song and it has a distinct eighties feel. I love it. While the simple riff doesn't rate among Manowar's best creations it still works here and gives the song its special drive. The lengthy guitar solo is one of many examples from the album where the solo just fits perfectly with the song.
Metal Daze is a true Manowar hymn for Heavy Metal and of course it includes a monster riff. I'm always amazed at the power of Eric Adams' voice at the start of this song. It feels like his voice is the most powerful force in the world and if you listen to this at a loud volume I dare you not to take a step back from the speakers when he sings the line "I feel the power rolling of the stage". This is also one of the highlights of the Hell on stage live album.
Fast taker is maybe the simplest song of the album, both musically and lyrically. What I like about it is its fast pace and the way Eric sings the chorus. Shell shock is a song about the Vietnam war and its casualties. There is a special vibe to this song that fits it very well. Sometimes the song reminds me of Apocalypse Now, both with the almost menacing way Eric sings the opening lines and the well written lyrics.
Manowar has been the opener of every Manowar live show from day one (As far as I know). It has a classic and timeless status and is worthy of being called the definition of Manowar.
Dark Avenger is one of the most epic songs Manowar have ever recorded. It is in a class of its own, and tells a dark story of vengeance. The narration done by Orson Welles is perfectly chilling and the final line "The pounding of his hooves did clap like thunder" has an otherworldy feel. But the narration is just one of several highlights during the song's 6 minutes. During the opening moments the instruments set the right mood and Eric's slow way of singing is quite brilliant. When the song finally picks up speed, set off by an ear shattering scream from Eric Adams, it is impossible not to stand up and either jump up and down, bang your head like a madman or just sing along at the top of your lungs. I usually do a combination of all three, much to the amusement of my long time suffering friends. I can't help but be caught along by the power of this song and the final part is a real adrenaline rush. I still remember that time at Wacken Open Air where we partied with our Finnish Brothers of Metal, and Skoll totally nailed the Eric Adams scream in this song. That was a most excellent day.
I remember the first time I heard Battle Hymn. I thought it was the most powerful song I'd ever heard. If any definition of magic in music is needed then this song is a good example. Starting out slowly with just a bass melody and some atmospheric guitar, the song builds momentum using only drums, and when the guitar and bass finally enter the sound again the result is an unmatched burst of power, so mighty that if you're not prepared, you will still be wondering what hit you long after the song has finished. The emotional middle part just goes to show that what Manowar truly is about is feeling. The feeling of being alive. The feeling of being free and being able to live your life only bound by your own limits. To me this song is not about war in the literal sense. It is about sticking together and always fighting for what you believe, through losses, pain and whatever, always growing stronger. The guitar solo is simply magical and filled with emotion. During the final crescendo leading to the last verse everything gets turned a notch higher and the way Eric's voice rises in power during this part is a completely over the top, spine tingling moment. It is times like these when I just sing at the top of my lungs and give myself away to the music completely. This is a song that will stir your blood and make you ready to take on the world.
One thing that cannot go unmentioned is the guitar playing of Ross The Boss. The solos that burst from his strings really have a magical feel to them. They have an air improvisation about them and you never quite know where the solo will go. But it always ends up fitting the song perfectly.
This is one of the most impressive debut albums ever recorded and a true classic. If you haven't got this album, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a listen and see if you like it. Other than that I can only say that this is heavy Metal in its purest form.
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, May 20, 2012