MANOWAR — Sign of the Hammer

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MANOWAR - Sign of the Hammer cover
4.40 | 28 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1984

Filed under Heavy Metal
By MANOWAR

Tracklist

1. All Men Play on 10 (4:01)
2. Animals (3:33)
3. Thor (The Powerhead) (5:23)
4. Mountains (7:39)
5. Sign of the Hammer (4:18)
6. The Oath (4:54)
7. Thunderpick (3:31)
8. Guyana (Cult of the Damned) (7:10)

Total Time: 40:33

Line-up/Musicians

- Eric Adams / vocals
- Ross the Boss / guitar
- Joey DeMaio / bass guitar
- Scott Columbus / drums

About this release

Release date: October 15, 1984
Label: 10 Records

Thanks to Pekka, diamondblack for the updates

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MANOWAR SIGN OF THE HAMMER reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kingcrimsonprog
In 1984, just two years after their debut, the legendary US Heavy Metal band Manowar released their fourth full-length studio album, Sign Of The Hammer. This was no rushed affair, just the shining output of a prolific and incendiary band hungry for success.

The album opens with the absolutely brilliant “All Men Play On Ten” which is like some kind of Heavy Metal mixture between Kiss’ “I Love It Loud” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Working For MCA” with its storytelling approach and behind-the-scenes setting, coupled with the love of high amplifier volumes. Musically, a bit of a slow groover, with lots of neat guitar work and a chorus designed for singing along to.

The rest of the album, with the exception of the brief guitar solo “Thunderpick,” is all pounding, exciting, varied and interestingly structured classic Heavy Metal.

Tracks like the catchy “Animals” and the thunderous Title Track, alongside the Speed Metal of “The Oath” and the absolutely superb album-highlight “Thor (The Powerhead)” are some of the most consistent and enjoyable tracks you could hope for. The band sound so right, but so unique. There’s no messing about, no filler, not even any ballads this time either. Instead the diversity comes from within the tracks themselves, with tunes like “Mountains” containing enough exploration and deviation from the norm to stop it all feeling samey.

If you look at the back of the record and see the title “Guyana – Cult Of The Damned” you’d be forgiven for thinking this was also a track about Greek Mythology… “Who is Guyana? She must be the goddess of cults or something” but it turns out that the track is about the Jonestown mass suicide where over 900 people died – “Thanks for the Cool Aid, Reverend Jim” – and then you remember where Guyana is. The track itself is an interesting, theatrical, seven-minute mini-epic that tastefully explores a lot of ground and is a fitting closer to the well-crafted album. All the choral sounding backing vocals and the “grand” sound of the production really makes it feel like something important.

Overall, Sign Of The Hammer is a concise, interesting and entertaining album from Manowar that is both surprisingly tasteful and still good honest fun. It may not feature any half-naked barbarians on the cover but it should be in every Manowar fan’s collection without exception.
AtomicCrimsonRush
I used to love thrashing this thing during the 80s and I memorised many of the songs simply because I played it to death. It really has some of the best Manowar tracks especially on side 2 the side that rarely left my turntable on the days of vinyl.

Regretfully most of my metal vinyl has gone but I still remember Sign of the Hammer "be my guide, the spell has been lifted" it is in my brain forever. Loved those manic riffs too. 'The Oath' and 'Thunderpick' have some resonance with my memory too but I will never forget 'Guyana (Cult of the Damned)' with its haunting lyrics; "I thank you for the cool aid Reverend Jim." I knew every riff especially as it builds to the big riff in the verses. I did not know at the time what it was about but have since learnt it was focussing on the Jim Jonestown Massacre. The lyrics have even more power with that knowledge. The intro to the song is kind of a Latin rhythm that works well, and the drum pounding is incredible, like a march to the gallows, or a march along the boardwalk to the vats of poison the cultists eventually took.

This is a strong Manowar and perhaps one of their last great releases, still powerful and riff heavy, with glorious vocals throughout, and then they moved into a more mainstream sound.
Warthur
It's a rare Manowar album that doesn't offer even a hint of oiled-up man-titty on the cover, but don't let Sign of the Hammer fool you - it isn't Manowar's NSBM album. Instead, it's a rip-roaring grab-bag of excellence from beginning to end, the Manowar crew proving that they can be every bit as epic and technically proficient (see for instance Guyana - Cult of the Damned) as those dudes in Iron Maiden. This is traditional heavy metal which will tickle the fancy of anyone who likes cheesy lyrical themes, but if you don't like glam metal or power metal, don't worry - this slice of 80s metal is traditional through and through, and loud as hell with it. It's a real eye-opener for me, that's for sure, and I won't be underestimating Manowar again after this.

Members reviews

TerryDactyl
With their fourth album, Manowar prove once and for all that there is no falseness in their metal. They also prove that they are the most excellent lyric writers (as far as it goes, sometimes one just has to look at something for doing what it does as opposed to what it doesn't do, and I believe this is the most important key to accessing the madness that is a great Manowar album!)in the fantasy, sword and sorcery field since C.L. Moore.

Thing is, I dig this fantasy thing, always have, and I believe it's completely awesome that Manowar decided to put all this silly mess into songs. Why not write a song about Guyana and the infamous Kool-Aid King? Why not write a song like "All Men Play on Ten" that's basically saying "We are too smart to have amps that go up to eleven?"

I really love the song "Mountain" and "Animals" is sort of a neat pop song in a Manowar-ish way. I love it when metal bands let themselves be a little poppy and kinda goofy. Manowar excel at just that.

PS. Sometimes I write these things without listening to the record in a little while. So I decided to play this record while I'm writing this and yea, there's no real problem with that. My memories were adept, I guess I've heard this silly thing enough to have it all the way to my soul, stuck in there, a tree growing around, engulfing a rusty tricycle, other poetic images. Anyway, Play this one really loud. I mean it, really loud.

Ratings only

  • Anster
  • Unitron
  • sauromat
  • progcoon
  • Bartje1979
  • michelandrade
  • Beyonder
  • KatiLily
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  • enosis1924
  • stefanbedna
  • aecht
  • Tlön
  • Fantacide
  • bratus
  • snowman1980
  • irregardlessly
  • slow man

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