Manowar

Kings of Metal

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On their anthemic mission statement "Kings of Metal" Manowar once again proclaim their metal superiority thusly: "Other bands play, Manowar kills." The twin sentiments of the group's metal mastery and the majesty of medieval heroism in battle are doggedly repeated on their sixth full-length release, Kings of Metal. There aren't many surprises on the disc, with the possible exception of bassist Joey DeMaio's blinding 64th-note bass playing on a reworking of Russian classicist Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" entitled "Sting of the Bumblebee." Considered by some fans to be a classic of its own, the 1988 release might have a few too many ballads for power metal enthusiasts brushing up on the genre's history. Even devout Manowar enthusiasts would have to admit that the band's staunch metal formalism isn't for everybody, and the most open-minded of listeners still might struggle with the muscle-bound pretense of slow-motion tracks like "Heart of Steel," "Crown and the Ring," and "Hail and Kill." Speedier tracks like "Wheels of Fire" demonstrate the groups talents much better, and are conspicuously low in number on this release. Besides their refreshingly totalistic loyalty to form, Manowar's most admirable trait is their prodigious metal musicianship, but with so much slow, balladic material, Kings of Metal makes little use of the band's fundamental musical strengths.

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