Battle Hymns

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Manowar were guilty of committing more heavy metal clich├ęs in the first half of their 1982 debut, Battle Hymns, than most bands commit in their whole careers, but that's part and parcel of their often frustrating, sometimes endearing "death to false metal" credo. And yet, macho-man lyrics aside, the quality musicianship of guitarist Ross the Boss and bassist Joey DeMaio is undeniable, as are the powerful pipes of singer Eric Adams. Appropriately introduced by the roar of motorcycle engines, opener "Death Tone" sets the, errr, death tone, for ensuing highlights like "Heavy Metal Daze," "Manowar," and "Fast Taker" (reminiscent of Rainbow's "Long Live Rock & Roll") -- which are still surprisingly rock-based in structure and hampered by a rather thin production that would quickly be remedied on subsequent LPs. The band proceeds to use a suitably dramatic Orson Welles narration (for the first, but not last time) during the quasi-epic "Dark Avenger," and DeMaio shows off his deft fingering on a bass solo version of "The William Tell Overture," retitled "William's Tale." A very promising start, Battle Hymns remains one of Manowar's more consistent albums.

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