Manowar

The Triumph of Steel

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With a 28-minute opening track, slightly expanded lyrical themes, and some of the best rhythmic onslaughts recorded by Manowar, The Triumph of Steel is perhaps the band's finest '90s offering. While never abandoning their myopic swords-and-sorcery themed power metal, Manowar had evolved musically during their first decade together and the music of this 1992 release benefits from what must have been countless hours woodshedding extreme musical figures. Tighter than a tumble-dried loin cloth, the standout track "Ride the Dragon" is an exceptionally fast number that signifies a commitment toward high-speed compositions on the part of bassist/songwriter Joey DeMaio. There is absolutely no subtlety or irony to Manowar or their cartoon metal, and many listeners will have trouble taking either seriously. Their credo, "death to false metal," and similar messages are constantly repeated, and unlike other comic book outfits like Gwar, Manowar aren't hamming it up for laughs. They're dead serious. While it's understandable that audiences and critics refuse to even acknowledge Manowar's heavy-handed rallying cries -- in America that is, while the band is often given favorable notices in the European metal press -- there is also something admirable about musicians so committed to what they do, even if it is silly. Loyalty is a rare human attribute, and on The Triumph of Steel, Manowar demonstrate plenty of it to their fans, their craft, and themselves. When considering this veteran outfit, listeners and critics fond of heavy music might pause their snickering for a moment and give Manowar a little credit. For decades the band worked for an ideal, not fashion or money. In so doing, they helped define the bizarre edge of metal's amorphous but very real culture.

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