American power metal/heavy metal icons, Manowar have released their eagerly anticipated EP, The Final Battle I, the first of three EPs that together form their latest album. The Final Battle I is out now, as of the 29th of March, via Magic Circle Entertainment.
While any new Manowar music is eagerly greeted by their army of loyal fans, They aren’t a band we absolutely love here at GBHBL. Don’t get me wrong, they are good but despite our love of all things power metal, they never quite caught our imagination. We never really bought into the hype. Still, the one thing we always say here is that nothing is more pleasing than being proved wrong and finding a gem in a band’s catalogue when you never really cared too much for the band. Does The Final Battle I represent such a gem? Well, yes actually. It really is very good. I wouldn’t quite say I love it as much as the band’s multi instrumentalist Joey DeMaio though. I doubt anyone likes it quite as much as he does.
Check out his thoughts below –
“The sheer power of these four songs is mind-blowing! We simply couldn’t release more songs at one time; it’s just too much! We want to give our fans the chance to take in every note, every word. Gain more strength from this experience and then be ready for the battles they fight every day. And join us on the road, on The Final Battle!”
The Final Battle I is 4 songs or 19 mins long starting with March of the Heroes into Valhalla. A 2 and a half minute long instrumental that could have come straight out of the cinema. Huge orchestral sounds and choir singing transport you into the fantasy that imagines the end of the battle and the fallen heroes marching forth into Valhalla. It is a powerful and exciting start. Blood and Steel follows and is just over 4 and a half minutes in length. A thrashy riff starts us off leading into what will surely be a fan favourite. Its pretty mid tempo for most of it but with decent guitars and an extremely catchy chorus sure to have crowds singing in unison. There is a solid solo but it is the excellent chorus that makes this track.
Sword of the Highlands is 6 minutes long and is brilliant, again capturing the idea of a fantasy film on audio. It really makes me think of the Highlander. Not just because of the obvious Highlands and sword connections. Musically it makes me picture Connor Macleod forging a new sword in the mountains of Scotland. It is a true epic song with wind instruments setting a morose, but beautiful tone. Eric Adam’s whispered vocals tell a sad tale of fallen warriors that builds in passion and intensity into a glorious chorus. It is a well made, well written and masterfully executed song with astonishing vocals and emotive melody.
The Final Battle I ends with another 6 minute long song called You Shall Die Before I Die. Starting with sorrowful choir vocals before we move into rare vocals by Joey DeMaio. They are near spoken word, but that suits the mood of the dark and doomy verse. Squealing guitars add a sprinkling of melody somewhat before it all culminates in a grandiose sound with the choirs, orchestra and sombre vocals. It is a decent song but probably the weakest of the 4 so ends the EP on a minor sour note, though you have to keep in mind it is more a third of the way through the album then the end of the EP.
The Final Battle I is a very good EP. To Manowar’s loyal fanbase, I am sure they will be absolutely thrilled with it. To those who don’t care so much for the band, well it is worth checking out. It really is very strong. Powerful, emotive metal with a strong story and emphatic choruses. Good, solid power metal by all accounts. The weaker track, You Shall Die Before I Die is still decent enough in itself but is the only real bum note. Three corkers and one good song is a damn fine release.
The Final Battle I is out now on Apple Music and iTunes. Physical copies are being released exclusively at the merch stand on their incoming The Final Battle World Tour that started in Germany on the 29th of March. Grab tickets for your local show from here. Physical copies will then hit stores on the 30th of May as well as all other digital streaming platforms. Part II and III are due out later in the year. Keep up to date with Manowar news at their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages by following the links.
The Final Battle I by Manowar (Magic Circle Entertainment)
The Final Score - 8/10