"I believe in the fans. I believe in metal more than anybody you've ever met.
And another thing, I'm prepared to die for metal. Are you?"
- Joey DeMaio, during a 2006 interview with Rock Hard Magazine.
At the end of the film classic Conan The Destroyer, the title character sits on his throne. Though his thick muscles bear the scars of his many hard-fought battles, his steel-eyed gaze over his vast kingdom shows how proud and mighty he remains. His enemies vanquished, the challengers to his throne dispatched, it is time for the triumphant king to rest.
This is the fate MANOWAR's members could have accepted in 2007.
Having conquered the world time and again since the band's inception, what's left for these warriors, these kings, to prove? What is the possible impetus for the band to forge ahead? No one would have faulted MANOWAR's members had they laid down their musical weapons to savor the spoils of their conquests. The Earthshaker Festival in Germany - July 23rd 2005—featured the largest heavy metal stage ever built. The inclusion of a 100 piece orchestra and a 100 piece choir as well as a legendary fireworks display timed to their final piece of music: what a way to keep the fans wanting more!
For MANOWAR's members, however, the mission remains far from accomplished.
At a time when even bands with the word "metal" in their names dismiss the greatest rock genre ever, MANOWAR's music will never be tainted by trends or diluted by outside pressure. The band's members remain steadfast in their resolve: to deliver to their ever-growing international legions of die-hard fans the brand of metal they demand to hear.
It is this drive—making the band so oblivious to most ignorant critics it often seems as if our heroes exist in a musical vacuum—that has helped MANOWAR create Gods Of War. The band's 10th studio album not only exceeded fan expectation, it just might be the cornerstone of a legacy of classics that includes Into Glory Ride, Kings Of Metal and Warriors Of The World.
Although MANOWAR did create the conceptual "Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts" for their 1992 classic The Triumph Of Steel [the album's 30-minute lead track was a metal statement to its record company at the time, who were pressuring the band to create music friendly to the then popular musical trend], the band have never created an entire concept album. Until now!
Gods Of War is the first in a cycle of concept albums paying tribute to different war gods. Fittingly, the first chapter in this album series details the history and exploits of the almighty father of the Norse Gods, Odin, whose power and wisdom were unmatched among the Gods and hailed on the battlefield with human sacrifice.
This tale, which unfolds throughout soon-to-be MANOWAR classics like "Loki, God Of Fire," "The Sons of Odin", "Glory, Majesty, Unity," and the awe-inspiring epic "Hymn Of The Immortal Warriors" revolves around a central character, who is supported by four other characters.
The main character is known to us as The Immortal Warrior, who is on a quest to earn his rightful place in Valhalla alongside Odin, the God Of War. The Warrior is aided by the four sons of Odin, his elite guards, who guide him on his way. His journey from darkness into light takes listeners from the beginning to the end of this record, which is the way this record should be heard: non stop. Where the enigmatic Immortal Warrior, whose imposing figure is seen on the covers of MANOWAR's studio albums and DVDs, ultimately concludes his journey is up to the listener to discover.
"The Immortal Warrior's journey is a reflection of all of our lives," says bassist Joey DeMaio. "One must pass many of life's trials to achieve victory."
Although MANOWAR albums are known for their high quality productions—Fighting The World (The band's fifth release) was metal's first full-digital recording—Gods Of War is the band's most epic undertaking to date. Singer Eric Adams believes it the birth of a new metal sound. "When people listen to this record for the first time," he says, "They will think, ‘this is not metal.' But it's not the metal they're used to hearing. It's metal MANOWAR and only MANOWAR does."
MANOWAR's predominant message has always been "believe in yourself." This is why so many fans find these lyrics to be a constant source of inspiration.
"We're ‘The Warrior Souls of Heavy Metal,' says guitarist Karl Logan. "So we immerse ourselves in mythology. Mythology is the exploration of basic human themes like life, death, jealousy, love and revenge: the things that motivate people. And the lyrics on Gods Of War are metaphors about overcoming the obstacles in our lives; breaking free of whatever is restraining us. Be all you can be as a person and never accept limitations."
The creation of Gods Of War was not devoid of obstacles. The band was forced to delay its release when, deep into the recording sessions, Logan suffered a devastating injuring after crashing on his prized dirtbike. Logan dislocated his elbow in the accident, an injury so severe it could have resulted in permanent nerve damage, ending his musical career. But the guitarist fought back and after months of painful rehabilitation, he boasts he has never played his instrument better. In the interim, the band turned tragedy into triumph by expanding their latest creation.
"We wanted to give the fans more," explains DeMaio. "More fire, more steel, more blood, more death, more power, more energy, more emotion, more dynamics, more moods, more orchestration and more choirs: we wanted to give our fans more MANOWAR."
And while other metal bands musically emulate the artists at the forefront of current tired trends, Manowar found inspiration listening to the legendary classical composer Richard Wagner, who DeMaio declares was "The father of heavy metal."
"Wagner's music changed my life many years ago," the bassist confesses. "I don't know if I could live another day without the feeling his music gives me. He was the greatest composer ever. He invented metal."
During MANOWAR's incomparable career, the band has recorded 10 studio albums; two live albums; seven DVDs and countless compilations. 2002's Warriors of The World reached number two on the German album charts and reached the top 10 in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. 2007's Gods of War debuted at number two on the German and Greek charts respectively. A band achieving their largest success after 10 studio albums? Unheard of! What is the key to MANOWAR's longevity? Why has the band remained fresh, strong, consistent and innovative after so many years?
Throughout their legendary career, the members of MANOWAR have not only overcome each and every obstacle lain in their paths, they have consistently been innovators. Among Manowar's many innovation:
* The first metal band to include sword & sorcery imagery in both their lyrics and
on their album covers.
* The only band ever to record with Orson Welles.
* Among the first metal bands to record with an orchestra.
* The first band to design and build their own speaker cabinets and now their
own guitars as well.
* The first metal band to record in Dolby 5.1 and be the spokespersons for
SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc.)
* The loudest band in the world (a record they have broken on
three separate occasions.
* The first metal band to record a song in 16 (and counting) different languages.
* The first metal band to collaborate with Germany's bestselling fantasy author, Wolfgang Hohlbein, on a concept album to compliment an adventure book based on Norse mythology, specifically involving Thor, the God of Thunder.
Once MANOWAR's 10th album was released, it was time for the band's Demons, Dragons and Warriors Tour to begin its second world invasion. And as fans have become accustomed to, MANOWAR delivered an awesome live show that dwarfed every stage show that has come before.
"We have just one goal," says Adams, "To bring true metal and the greatest show on earth to the greatest fans in the world."
For MANOWAR's next tour, the band took fans to Valhalla. This was achieved by mobilizing seven trucks and eight buses and a crew of over 100. Armed with more than 450,000 watts of lighting and 150,000 watts of sound equipment plus 40,000 watts of stage amplifiers, the band was ready to melt fans' faces.
Every band argues they have the greatest fans, but how many of these artists' fans tattoo the band's logo on their bodies? How many will travel from the furthest corners of the planet to see just one show?
Throughout MANOWAR's storied career, the band has faced the trials and tribulations shared by most musicians forging a career. Although MANOWAR have been triumphant in their battle to succeed and have stayed their course through rough waters, they've witnessed many other bands fall to the perils of greed and commercialization in the music industry. To that end, MANOWAR created Magic Circle Music to help other bands avoid those pitfalls by giving the power back to the musicians and the fans. Already boasting an awesome roster that includes Rhapsody Of Fire, Bludgeon, HolyHell and Majesty, Magic Circle Music proudly released MANOWAR's Gods Of War.
Besides a standard CD format, Gods Of War was released as a limited-edition embossed metal slipcase containing a high-grade media book bound in leather. Furthermore, this limited edition featured a bonus DVD with unreleased material detailing the making of this album and some special behind-the-scenes footage. A triple-vinyl LP in a gatefold sleeve was also available.
Gods Of War featured brand new cover artwork by the world's leading fantasy artist Ken Kelly as well as a scorching mix done by the unparalleled Ronald Prent at the Galaxy Studios in Belgium and mastering by two-time Grammy winner Darcy Proper.
Magic Circle Music soon evolved into the Magic Circle Festival. Creating its own festival was a natural progression for MANOWAR. The annual event is a tribute to its fans and features creative and innovative ways to give the fans the ultimate metal experience. The first event in 2007 invited fans worldwide to witness the debut of the festival at a cost of only 10 Euros per ticket. Over 35,000 fans trekked from all corners of the globe in support of the spirit of heavy metal. The festival of 2008 in Bad Arolsen, Germany was a week-long event celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the band and featured performances by legendary artists such as Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent. 2009 features another first in heavy metal history. The debut of a unique collaboration between MANOWAR and Germany's bestselling fantasy author, Wolfgang Hohlbein. The Asgard Saga, a modern spin on the classic Norse mythology tale of Thor, the God of Thunder, will be introduced exclusively to metal and fantasy fans attending the festival. MANOWAR will perform music from the concept album based on the book by Hohlbein.
Meanwhile in 2009, the band is set to headline 6 of Europe's major festivals on the "DEATH TO INFIDELS TOUR 2009". Not bad for a band who could have rested on their laurels years earlier. The only thing left to say is:
TO BE CONTINUED...