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Tuesday
Mar082011

MANOWAR: the perfect music by which “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women”

 

Ever since high school, about an hour or so before I’d take a seat at the table where we met every week for Dungeons & Dragons, I’d listen to music to get me into that game-state.  It’s no different than what ball players do, you know, listening to AC/DC or some such stadium, fist pumping rock.  I needed the dice-rolling equivalent, and I typically found it in the music of Rush.  Caress of Steel was my album of choice.  It had The Necromancer, The Fountain of Lamneth saga, and even Bastille Day when I felt those historical inclinations.  Sometimes I’d put on Bytor and the Snow Dog from Fly By Night.  I’d even been known to listen to a medievalish ditty or two from Jethro Tull or Broadsword from their electronic period The Broadsword and the Beast

As our campaign graduated to college, I picked up the Michael Moorcock inspired tunes of  Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult.  They all worked perfectly, too.  By the time I sat down, I was ready to roll with the best of them, because you and I both know that no matter how much role-playing elements the DM puts into the adventure, what it always comes down to is that final, hack and slash for survival.  By the time graduate school came along, however, I found the band that put all others to shame when it came to putting me into that sheer I’m-gonna-kill-that-freakin-frost-giant-even-if-I-have-to-pummel-him-with-my-own-severed-arm mentality.  That band was Manowar.

Manowar have been together since the early eighties and epitomize all that was, is, and can ever be metal.  The music is hard, powerful, though sometimes fast, but always grand.  Eric Adams’ vocals can rage and soar in the same song. They are truly the heavy metal equivalent to Wagner (who is also apparently one of their music idols).  Their most recent project is teeming with the Wagnerian love of Norse mythology.  Oh, they’ve had their share of songs that all metal bands do, things like “we’re the ultimate metal band,” “we sing about evil stuff,” and “here’s our song about the Jonestown tragedy.”  Their strength, however, has always been those songs inspired by the sword and sorcery genre, and that’s what makes them the perfect band to get you pumped to sack the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Pre-game favorites: Hail & Kill, Heart of Steel, The Crown and the Ring, & Blood of the Kings.Game inspiration actually begins before you even listen to the music.  Ken Kelly, the artist behind some of science fiction and fantasy’s classic book covers, has been doing the cover art since their fifth album, Fighting the World.  And if that doesn’t put you in the mood, flip it over and check out some of the titles: Hail and Kill, Battle Hymns, Dark Avenger, The Power of Thy Sword, Swords in the Wind.  The titles aren’t misleading either like you get with a lot of other metal bands, who would have Heart of Steel be a syrupy, love power ballad.  Not with Manowar.  The title pretty much sums it up.  Heart of Steel is an anthem of individual spirit – no retreat, no surrender. 

And then there are the lyrics.  Here’s just a brief sampling: “Our arrows fall like hail/Trample on the Cover art by the great Ken Kelly.dead/Ride through the Gate of clouds/stand on the open steppe” (Kill with Power); “For The Glory Of The King, We Fight To Stay Alive - FIGHT/By The Power Of The Will, The Spirit To Survive – FIGHT/Across The Gates Of Heaven, Beyond The Gates Of Hell – FIGHT/We Fought To Stay Together, We Have Won And Have Lived To Tell Who Would Be King” (King); “Fight For The Kingdom Bound For Glory/Armed With A Heart Of Steel/I Swear By The Brothers Who Stand Before Me/To No Man Shall I Kneel/their Blood Is Upon My Steel” (Call to Arms).  I’m ready to take on an army of hill giants just thinking about these songs.  I dare you to listen to Battle Hymn without it stirring that primal urge to roll a d20.

While they have sadly never achieved more than a cult following in America (as is typical with a majority of the world’s great bands), they have pretty much conquered the rest of the world.  In my favorite review of one of their albums, the writer suggested that if Conan the Barbarian ever listened to a band, Manowar would be that band.  If that’s not an endorsement for these guys to be your D&D house band, I don’t know what is.  Now pick up those dice, and let’s go kill some orcs! 

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    [...]MANOWAR: the perfect music by which “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women” - Nerdbloggers - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead[...]
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    MANOWAR: the perfect music by which “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women” - Nerdbloggers - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
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    MANOWAR: the perfect music by which “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women” - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
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