Hail to England

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Laugh all you want at their absurd macho posturing and "death to false metal" hootenanny, but with 1984's Hail to England, New York's Manowar delivered one of the quintessential power metal albums of all time. Yes, tales of war and conquest like "Army of the Immortals" and "Hail to England" are patently absurd from a lyrical standpoint, but how far do they honestly exceed, say, Iron Maiden's worse transgressions? Musically, bassist Joey DeMaio and guitarist Ross the Boss are in top songwriting form here, finding the perfect blend of old-school metal and thrash intensity (power metal defined) -- all of it executed with incredible technical skill, and, believe it or not, heartfelt conviction. This is heavy metal, kids, warts and all. Along with the tracks mentioned above, Hail to England also finds the self-appointed metal warriors unleashing an absolute classic with "Blood of my Enemies"; possibly their finest epic composition ever in "Bridge of Death"; and their best all-out thrasher, the awesome and positively hysterical "Kill With Power." And who else could concoct a sonic curiosity like "Black Arrows," a DeMayo solo performed on piccolo bass at blinding speed following a spoken intro of gut-busting hilarity. Do not be frightened, this is indeed Manowar's finest hour.

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