Kings of Metal album cover
Kings of Metal

Manowar

1988
Atlantic

Manowar are easy to laugh at, but the theatrical machismo of their lyrics are part of a vivid hard rock tradition that stretches from Meat Loaf to Monster Magnet, and the jokes at their expense often seem to come from people insecure about admitting to their own pleasures. Most of Manowar’s best songs are about the awesomeness of being Manowar, and the title track from their sixth album, 1987’s Kings Of Metal, is in that glorious/hilarious tradition, with its chorus “Other bands play/Manowar kills.” “Kingdom Come” and “Hail and Kill” are pretty potent fist-in-the-air anthems, too, but it’s important to note that the list of things that Manowar likes to sing about (metal, fire, steel, brotherhood, swords, hammers) also includes motorcycles, and “Wheels of Fire,” which opens this album, is one of their fastest and most furious songs, from the opening chorale of roaring engines to its galloping, almost thrashy riff.

Phil Freeman

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