Manowar – The Final Battle I EP


Reviewing Manowar. I feel weird just by thinking about it since they are not just my favorite band. They represent so much more and during these 29 years that I have been loyally following their course, I have never put any of their releases under the process of reviewing. But I guess there is a first time for everything so I decided to accept the challenge presented by the chief editors (damn you Sakis Nikas!)

The main puzzle was to find the way to approach the material. Sterile description? Emotional outpour? Detached view? Fan oriented writing? I wavered a lot and finally did it. The result is yours to judge. Read the following lines and find out.

Manowar haven’t been the most studio active band out there. The last time we heard some original material from them was 7 long years ago, through the Lord of Steel album. So the news of the release of this EP dropped like a bomb, without any warning and literally in the middle of the Final Battle tour. It wasn’t long till the first samples appeared on YouTube but despite the strong temptation I managed to manifest remarkable discipline and reserve until The Final Battle Part I (the first in a series of 3 EPs) found its way to my hands in its physical shape, blasting through the stereo loud and clear as deserved.

The opener March of the Heroes Into Valhalla is the (expected) epic intro of this trilogy. Loyal to the Gods of War aesthetic, it has already found its way to the Manowar live set since it is the new concert intro, dethroning the classic Ben Hur Overture after many years of service. In Blood and Steel we find all these trademark elements introduced by the band in the post Triumph of Steel era and could easily be a part of any album from Louder Than Hell and forth. Pounding, uplifting and quite addictive, featuring bone crushing performance by the ageless Eric Adams. This man is currently through the seventh decade of his life and still there is no opponent or contender anywhere to be found. Adams shines even brighter in the Sword of the Highlands ballad. His flawless interpretation breathes life into every single word, creating lifelike images. The song follows the Odin and Swords in the Wind path but without reaching their towering heights, at least not through this first impression. Time will tell though. And just like that we reach You Shall Die Before I Die, the song that was mocked and took the most hits in the relentless social media arena. The main reason? The strange but not unusual Joey Demaio’s decision to sit behind the microphone and assume the role of singer-narrator. I listen to the song carefully, again and again, trying to find the reasons that justify such harsh critique. The only thing that I managed to attest was the fact that this composition is very close to what some call “old Manowar style”, with Demaio’s signature bass runs and ambience that resembles songs like Hatred! And all these are elements the lack of which is constantly the source of nagging from all those who failed to follow the course of the band to this day. Definitely a mystery to me…

There is a single word that can describe this EP for me. Appetizer. 20 minutes of Manowar magic and it’s over and all those who are thirsty for new Manowar material, myself included of course, are left unfilled. The only thing we can do is wait for the two remaining parts while hoping that there will not be a big gap between them.

So, The Final Battle Part I is officially out there. Of course the earth will continue to spin, the haters are still gonna hate and mock, the sympathizers will remain straddled and the hardcore fans will find yet another reason to be happy. This has always been the case with Manowar after all, ever since they released that two song demo back in 1981…