Manowar - The Final Battle I

Manowar The Final Battle I cover
The Final Battle I
Magic Circle Music
Manowar are a historic and quite idiosyncratic band that has defined the metal genre, single handedly giving birth to the sub-genre of Epic Metal and for many years being its undisputed Kings. Lucky enough to feature one of the best vocalists in the entire genre in Eric Adams, the band was able to sell several millions of albums in their long and storied career that features numerous highlights and firsts, but is not without controversy… and lately most of the negativity towards the band has not been about their antics or over the top behavior (although the incarceration of a former member on child abuse charges was not what any band might have wanted to be associated with), but about their subpar musical output that seemingly is on a steady decline for the past decade with not one by two re-recordings of classic albums in the place of new material and a singular album that might have been their worst so far, as far as studio releases are concerned.
“The Final Battle I” is the first of three planned EPs that should come out during the band’s eponymous tour, and it’s their first release, featuring new material in some seven years. But is it any good? Let’s go over the tracks one by one and find out…
“March of the Heroes into Valhalla” is a generic as fuck cinematic intro with choirs which goes on for over two minutes, without really having some great theme / musical motif to warrant such length. It’s supposed to be the atmospheric buildup to the first proper track in a number of years, the rather simple and straightforward “Blood and Steel”. A by the numbers Manowar tune, which feels like a metallized rock n roll tune that feels not only trite, but also “empty”, cheaply produced and even not all that spirited. Granted the advancing age might be keeping Eric Adams a little back from sounding as good as he did in his prime, but his performance is not bad by any means. The whole song feels stale and performed without enthusiasm with terrible guitar and drum performances. Despite being much closer to classic Manowar in spirit than much of the drivel that made up “The Lord of Steel” (one of their worse albums); it manages to sound worse for wear and production values. Being boring is the worst thing that can happen to a band like Manowar and unfortunately that seems to be the case. Still it’s the only thing I can think of, on offer here that resembles a proper Manowar song. Even for their most loyal fans it’s hard to deny that the band has taken a huge nosedive after the release of “Triumph of Steel” and has only been able to shine on a handful of really great songs, sewn over several releases, ever since.
“Sword of the Highlands” is a piano ballad that sees Adams whisper out for over 90 seconds, before he goes into proper “singing”. It’s a slow march – supposedly about the “Highlands”, but it sounds more like an American wartime anthem than anything else. Adams’s performance is fine, but there’s precious little “song” around it. It feels like a flimsy, template made song, which has little to do with the bands illustrious past.
But the worst offender on this EP is the final song, “You Shall Die Before I Die”, a half spoken, half sung demo of a song, which feels like it’s missing serious amounts of orchestration. Sung by Joey DeMaio of all people using some dodgy vocal effect that makes his voice sound sorta demonic… but also distorted and not particularly interesting. It’s very basic and repetitive and if Adams was singing it, it might have been at least tolerable, but now it just sounds like something that should have remained unreleased, or at least been a bonus track on a single or something.
The band’s prerogative to offer their “Final Battle” album over 3 EPs, probably in an effort to milk the fans, who still purchase physical product out of their money, is scandalous, but if the quality of the material was up to some standard, turning a blind eye might have been possible. Now the only thing I could do is to hope that the band might have some better material to release in the near future to erase this forgettable release from memory, but somehow, I have serious doubts about it.