MANOWAR — Highlights from the Revenge of Odysseus (review)

MANOWAR — Highlights from the Revenge of Odysseus album cover EP · 2022 · US Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Vim Fuego
It’s been an epic journey. There have been many times when the battle looked lost, but the Kings of Metal triumphed. The final swansong, Manowar’s Armageddon, the ultimate final confrontation approaches. How will these mighty warriors fare?

To unnecessarily answer a rhetorical question, fuck knows. And at this stage, how many metal warriors still care? Manowar knows not and cares not, and on they soldier in the fight for metal!

OK, enough cliché and war themed metaphor. Let’s get down to plain talking. Manowar are nearing the end of their musical career. There’s one more album coming. There’s a song on it about the Greek hero Odysseus, which promises to be over 30 minutes long. “Highlights from the Revenge of Odysseus” is supposedly a sample from the song.

Achilles was afforded the same treatment in 1992 in “Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts” on the album “The Triumph of Steel”. “Achilles…” is a sprawling but flawed progressive power metal operetta, incorporating both bass and drum solos, and overblown theatrics. How has Odysseus fared?

Not particularly well on first appearances.

First track “Athena’s Theme” is a quasi-operatic, over-dramatic intro”. It follows into the clichéd stormy night and ominous horns of “Telemachus, Pt. 1”. It sounds like a rehashing of “The Warriors Prayer”. Except it’s in fucking Greek. If you don’t speak the language you’re buggered without a translation. It segues into a power ballad duet (“Where Eagles Fly”) so sappy even Meatloaf would have been too ashamed to sing it. Yes, Eric Adams still has a great voice, as does Chiara Tricarico of Italian symphonic power metal band Moonlight Haze, but metal fans want to hear him belting out massive war anthems, not warbling away in limp pseudo-operatic insipidity. And then there’s another Greek interlude called “Odysseus and Calypso - The Island of Ogygia”, which sounds ever so dramatic, but is still meaningless if you don’t speak the language. It’s enough to make frustrated Mano-warriors hang up their rusty battleaxes and dented codpieces.

But then Manowar do what they’ve done for their entire pompous, pretentious, unintentionally self-parodic 40+ year career. These arrogant, self-important bastards make all the bloated theatrical bullshit worth wading through by knocking out an anthemic, monstrous blast of good old fashioned heavy fucking metal with final track “Immortal”.

Ominous, ethereal choir? Check. Thundering Drums of Doom? Check. Relentless militaristic guitar riffs? Check. Joey De Maio’s unbelievable bass gymnastics? Check. Eric Adams calling brothers to arms? Check. The recipe is all there, all laid out plain and to see. It should sound tired and rehashed because this is a 40-year-old recipe, but it doesn’t. It still feels crisp and vital as it did when “Battle Hymns” first blasted out of speakers worldwide in 1982. It’s comfortingly metal without being over-comfortable. It’s over-blown without being overbearing. It’s just quintessential Man-O-fucking-War.

Whether the rest of the forthcoming album lives up to the standard set by this EP remains to be seen. And that’s exactly what this is supposed to do – pique curiosity and set out expectations. So fuck you Manowar, for who you are, you arrogant grumpy old bastards. But also thank you Manowar, for the music which has been, and possibly for what remains to come. There’s still a bit of wear left in the old codpiece yet.
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Vim Fuego wrote:
6 months ago
Yeah it is. I was getting ready to write them off and completely slag it off, but I couldn't.
Tupan wrote:
6 months ago
This EP is better than it should be IMO.

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