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Four guys that look like they had their sources from a fantasy movie form the most argumentative combo in the metal scene. With their theatrical symbolism they beat on the shit that it splashes. Manowar live in a world of real heroism, where men are still men and women still have big tits.
Ross the Boss
A gaze on their covers says plenty things: hammer, sword and anvil demonstrate strength and the booklets show exactly what they are singing about. Fans of various fantasy movies, such as Conan, find here exactly what they are searching for. And the content of the discs holds what the covers are promising.
But against the suspicions of some enviers it's not the work of dilettantes that have to hide their talent behind sickening hullabaloo. Quite the opposite. Joey DeMaio is an indisputable artist on the 4-string-bass guitar that tweedles "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimski-Korsarkoff when he is bored. Singer Eric Adams has the necessary metal-pepper in his voice, as well as an classical singing training and as group they give every poser ("Whimps and Posers, Leave the Hall!!") a mighty kick in his ass.
In short: The willing listener finds here first-class Heavy Metal garnished with a dash of epic content and heroic epic. This is indeed one of the reasons why the band is adored and hated. Between that you will hardly find anything else.
2. In the beginning
The 4 original members converged, because bassist Joey and guitarist Ross "the Boss" Funicello met at a Black Sabbath concert. The one was the bass roadie of Sabbath and the other one played guitar in the French support act Shakin Street. Both shared the love for big guitars and decided unceremoniously to let their affectations flow into their own band. Joey previously worked with Ronnie James Dio at Elf. Hardly back at the States both were seeking for the remainding two people that soon were found in ex - The Kids - singer Eric Adams and drummer Kirk Kennedy.
The first line-up of Manowar now was completed:
Joey DeMaio, Eric Adams, Scott Columbus and Ross The Boss
"Battle Hymns" of 1982 then is a pure metal album ("Death to false Metal") that couldn't be more directly. Already the rhythm isn't dictated by Kirk but Donnie Hamzik. The title track and "Dark Avenger", at which people can hear Orson Welles in the middle part, are pointing out. The consequence is a short tour across the south-east of the USA in the interlude of Ted Nugent and soon a cult is creating around the band with their masculine image. But this does not safe them of getting sent back to dessert by EMI.
The debut album "Battle Hymns"
Donnie has a similar fate and therefore Scott Columbus appears at the plan, who made his debut at the first both concerts in their home town New York, which are opened by Virgin Steele. At the time when "Into glory Ride" came into the world they changed to Megaforce Records and signed the new contract with their own blood! A symbol of the willingness to make sacrifices of the band, which at this time, according to Joey, actually had to starve for the music in general and for metal in specification.
On "Into glory Ride" as well, a spoken word contribution of Orson Welles appears, which, however, is from the time of the debut and wasn't published yet. To crack the British market, the 4 warriors shorthanded called their 3rd disk "Hail to England". They recorded the album within one week for just 20.000 Dollar and afterwards set all sails to the old world to tramp around with Mercyful Fate.
3. Breakthrough and label troubles
Hail to England
While they were only sneered gentle most of the time in the States, the Europeans absolutely got on the heroic pathos and the epic lyrics. "Sign of the Hammer" is celebrated in every nook and corner. The song "All men play on Ten" already says everything and during the tours with Motörhead Manowar actually reached an entry into the Guinness book of records as the loudest band in the world.
After it got a little quiet about the band in 96, as they unfortunately again didn't have a label, they signed eventually at Atlantic Records and the year after they reported back with "Fighting the World".
Kings Of Metal
Actually the first critics among the die-hard fans announced, as the album, at first sight, seems to be quite stuttering. Therefore "Kings of Metal" again is like out of one flush and the ballade "Heart of Steel" additionally even appears with german lyrics as a sign of tribute to the German fans that always brought them great success.
"Kings of Metal" is the last album with Ross the Boss whose place is taken by Dave "The Death Dealer" Shankle. Scott also drops from the group at the end of the 80's as his son became very ill, and personally presented Kenny "Rhino" Earl as his follower. He smashed his drums at the work "The Triumph of Steel" from '92, which directly entered place 8 (!) in the german charts. Together with Skyclad they were touring through Europe in autumn and pleased the lady's world wherever they were.
But in summer '94 Dave already was tired of wielding the hammer and rather founded his Dave Shankle Group. Since then Karl Logan, who gave his debut on the "Louder than Hell" album, is allowed to torture the 6 strings. Scott also is one of the party again and once more was kickin' ass. Subsequent to the album Manowar addicted themselves to the live frenzy and approximately published "Hell on Wheel" in '98 and one year later "Hell on Stage". They discovered the medium DVD for themselves and initially came out with "Hell on Earth Part I" and after one year "Fire and Blood", the second party of the series.
In the same year they reported back with the next studio album. Meanwhile under contract at Nuclear Blast, "Warriors of the World" arose and again cracked the charts, this time on position 2. However, the affair with Nuclear Blast was only short and "Hell on Earth Part III" appeared already at SPV.
4. Manowar nowadays
After an US tour with Rhapsody in year 2005 the next coup followed right ahead with "Hell on Earth Part IV", which again documented the enormous success of the band in Europe and above all in Germany.
Manowar at signing the contract
At the Earthshaker Festival 2005 in Geiselwind they actually wanted to perform with acting legend Christopher Lee (Dracula, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) but he sadly cancelled via video screen.
Instead all former members performed with the band (three drum kits on stage!) and also a classical orchestra sat next door and accompanied the band on several songs. The highlight of this concert showed up to the enthusiastic crowd when all 3 drummers and all 3 guitarists of present and past played "Battle Hymns" together with the ur-members Eric and Joey.
The crowning finish of the performance ensued with "Crown and the Ring" from tape featuring a gigantic firework. This massive spectacle sure can be watched soon on "Hell on Earth Part V". The rest of the year 2005 was at the sign of a new album.
Early in October the Sons Of Odin EP was released, which was eagerly-awaited by the fans. This EP included live versions of Ascension and King Of Kings, two new songs (Sons Of Odin and Gods Of War), as well as a small DVD in the Immortal package containing a trailer to the Earthshaker DVD, video recording of a rehearsal of Heart Of Steel with orchestra and a small report of the fanconvention at the Earthshaker festival. Already these two songs let expect only the best from the new album. Epic songs combined with a soupçon orchestra.
In the beginning of 2006 guitarist Karl Logan unfortunately broke his arm just when he was driving on his motor bike and had to postpone the recording of the lead-guitar parts. According to this the already announced dates in April were cancelled. The alternative date was again canceled and so the tour was caught up a year later. As compensation the tickets for the first Magic Circle Festival (July 2007) was sold very cheap.
Although it was the first festival that was organised by Manowar on their own people liked it very much. After that the new album "Gods Of War" was realeased. On the one hand Manowar went back to their roots (everything was about Odin resp. vikings), but on the other hand the went new musical. Orchestras and chors was used for the album. Not every fan liked this new concept but for many fans it is the best Manowar album so far.
The second Magic Circle Festival in July 2008 had some organisational weak points and the last-minute annulations of Whitesnake and Def Leppard met with criticism. But the playing of the entire six albums (Crown and the Ring with chor) let most of the fans connive. Joey also announced that on the nex MCF there will be more days for signing sessions, and the new (yet untitled) album will be played live. This album will have an companion book that will be written by Wolfgang Hohlbein, and a movie and a video game.
The third Circle Festival was ill-starred. The location in Bad Arolsen could not be accessed due construction work there and a replacement was found very late. An offical announcement was made in March (4 months before the date). This time the Loreley on the Rhein river was place of the spectacle. Also the promotion could be started very late. But against these adverse circumstances many Manowarriors attended the festival. Contrary to the announcements last year there was only one day of signing sessions and also the album was not finnished so far, so it could not played live complete. But the new EP "Thunder In The Sky" was already finnished with many songs, and they we're all played live for the first time on the festival. Because the circumstances on the Loreley were not that good for Manowar, Joey announced that they would not return to that "shithole" again. For next year there will be several MCFs, at least there were announcements for festivals in Romania and France. The next album probably will be finnished till the end of the year.