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This is another fine Manowar CD. When I first heard "All men play on ten" I was hooked forever. Here was a band who were not afraid to crank it up and this album should be played loud. There are lots of great metal songs on here. From the mythical escapism of "Thor (The powerhead)" to more reflective moments like "Mountains", there is plenty to enjoy. The real highlights are "All men play on ten", "Sign of the hammer" and "Guyana (cult of the damned)", the latter being an eight minute tour-de-force with excellent lyrics and playing. This is a highly recommended album.
This has to be one of my favourite manowar album alongside Hail To England and Gods Of War. The only thing that lets this album down is the bass solo Thunderpick it's good but gets boring sometimes so it's a small minor. This album is all classic, and it has one of my favourite songs ever Guyana (Cult Of The Damned) why metalhammer called this song a joke is beyong (still an awesome magazine by the way). Even manowars ballad (manowar style) Mountains is brilliant. If you are getting into manowar buy this and Hail To England. HAIL MANOWAR AND TRUE METAL!!!!!!!!!!
This is a good album but not their great, i do prefer the previous ones than that but there are some great songs like the title track, 'The Oath' and 'All Man Play on 10'. If you like heavy power and Manowar, you should own it, if you want greater stuff try the previous ones, they are awsome.
Not bad for a Years work, two metal classics. Manowar's fourth album is somewhat of an end of an era as after `Sign of the Hammer' they went a bit commercial on `Fighting the World' or `Crazy Crazy Nights' or whatever it was called, and subsequently released albums that did not match the quality of the first four albums... `Four sworn to vengeance!'. Anyway, these early Manowar albums are all essential pieces of epic, steely, infidel crushing metal called by the gods and sworn to play Germany and only Germany! Hail to Deutschland! Ok, I digress but `Sign of the Hammer' is another great fun and excellent release with that "heavy metal Cimmerian" vibe that only Manowar has. Sadly in the year Manowar concluded all men indeed do play on ten, guitar genius and inspiration to the likes of Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, Nigel Tufnel revealed that these indeed do go to eleven...once again Spinal Tap was a step ahead of their contemporaries.
First of all I would like to get one think off my chest...How much does Ross The Boss rule?! In my estimation he's one of the finest and most overlooked guitar players in metal and `Sign of the Hammer' catches Ross on top form. His solos are ripping and racy but with a classic rock vibe that ensures they don't descend into "betcha can't play this" exercises, his solos are fast but always exciting. I suffer from a misfortunate condition of getting very drunk and assuming my guitar playing sounds like Ross The Boss circa 1984 when infact its closer to Kirk Hammett. The rest of the band is on good form here too, Scott Columbus' drums are actually something to write home about here solid and catchy especially on `Thor (the Powerhead)'. Joey Demaio does his usual thing; some over excessive moments but also some interesting playing too and his writing is up to the high standard of his previous works. Eric Adams of course is exceptional he displays a great versatility and range on this album and he's probably the best American metal singer ever, well I can't think of anyone better...no not the dude from Iced Earth!
`Sign of the Hammer' does actually something splendid with its opener `All Men Play On Ten'; it causes a complete absurdity. The song itself deals with not selling out and essentially becoming a new wave band (at least that's what the lyrics suggest) and then some fans and reviewers accuse it of being a commercial and sell out number, oh the irony! Anyway the actual song itself is great, simple riffs giving Ross free reign with his solos and of course great lyrics how many other Manowar songs mention polyester suits? `Thor (The Powerhead)' is an instant Manowar classic and perhaps my favourite song here, ever so catchy riffs (dow now now now now now now now now[...] I've expanded my musical vocabulary). The title track also is a killer, with that dramatic opening chord and tremolo picking riffs. The song has a certain energy to it, it really moves along and goes places the high point of it being another face melting solo from Ross. The lyrics are a bit absurd the whole `it's my time' thing just makes my think of menstruation...which boys and girls is not true metal! `The Oath' is total speed metal and one of the bands fastest numbers, topped off with another great solo (notice a pattern?). The lyrics too are awesome, its strange to know that Manowar didn't mention metal in every song once upon a time, however on `Gods of War' you simply replace the word metal with Odin! `Mountains' stands out not only as a song but for its very interesting harmonies, the guitars take a back seat to some of Joey's inventive bass playing, although it doesn't have much of an actual low end to it. It's sort of a bizarre ballad not too dissimilar from `Gates of Valhalla'...its got that same epic borderline pompous grandeur to it.
There are a couple of stinkers here but nothing major. Again a bass solo...why Joey? Why? Do you not play enough notes in a regular Manowar song? For Odin's sake! We know you can play fast so leave the bass solos to John Entwistle and well no one else, just the Ox. `Animals' too doesn't do anything interesting, its typical sex driven 80's rocker which has a place on a Motley Crue album, well you can put anything in a Motley Crue album they are a singles band, but not here so erm `Animals' Leave the Hall! `Animals' can go on a b-side to `Blow Your Speakers' (or `Cherry Pie' or whatever its called) and then we'd have metal excellence and a bass solo just like the other early Manowar albums.
`Sign of the Hammer' is without doubt a great Manowar album, one of the bands best and what's more is that finally we get a good production on a Manowar album, at last! However it was short lived as `Fighting the World' (or `Slippery When Wet') and `Kings of Metal' suffered from a processed drum sounds. Anyway, `Sign of the Hammer' is essential listening for those looking for over the top, epic, atmospheric and fun metal.Read more ›