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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manowar "play on ten" on this under-rated diamond., 10 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Men Play On Ten...But These Go To Eleven!, 23 Mar 2008
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manowar it's more then just a job it's music., 14 Jun 2008
By 
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
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!!!!!!!!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Manowar - Sign Of The Hammer, 5 Dec 2014
By 
Gentlegiantprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
In 1984, just two years after their debut, the legendary US Heavy Metal band Manowar released their fourth full-length studio album, Sign Of The Hammer. This was no rushed affair, just the shining output of a prolific and incendiary band hungry for success.

The album opens with the absolutely brilliant “All Men Play On Ten” which is like some kind of Heavy Metal mixture between Kiss’ “I Love It Loud” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Working For MCA” with its storytelling approach and behind-the-scenes setting, coupled with the love of high amplifier volumes. Musically, a bit of a slow groover, with lots of neat guitar work and a chorus designed for singing along to.

The rest of the album, with the exception of the brief guitar solo “Thunderpick,” is all pounding, exciting, varied and interestingly structured classic Heavy Metal.

Tracks like the catchy “Animals” and the thunderous Title Track, alongside the Speed Metal of “The Oath” and the absolutely superb album-highlight “Thor (The Powerhead)” are some of the most consistent and enjoyable tracks you could hope for. The band sound so right, but so unique. There’s no messing about, no filler, not even any ballads this time either. Instead the diversity comes from within the tracks themselves, with tunes like “Mountains” containing enough exploration and deviation from the norm to stop it all feeling samey.

If you look at the back of the record and see the title “Guyana – Cult Of The Damned” you’d be forgiven for thinking this was also a track about Greek Mythology… “Who is Guyana? She must be the goddess of cults or something” but it turns out that the track is about the Jonestown mass suicide where over 900 people died – “Thanks for the Cool Aid, Reverend Jim” – and then you remember where Guyana is. The track itself is an interesting, theatrical, seven-minute mini-epic that tastefully explores a lot of ground and is a fitting closer to the well-crafted album. All the choral sounding backing vocals and the “grand” sound of the production really makes it feel like something important.

Overall, Sign Of The Hammer is a concise, interesting and entertaining album from Manowar that is both surprisingly tasteful and still good honest fun. It may not feature any half-naked barbarians on the cover but it should be in every Manowar fan’s collection without exception.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good enough, 14 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Iv swore the oath, 17 July 2013
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO HONESTLY REVIEW THIS ALBUM? ITS MANOWAR, TRUE HEAVY + LOUD WILL TELL YOU ALL YOU NEED! MANOWAR KICK ASS EVERYBODY KNOWS + THIS OUTING REALY TAKES SOME BEATING! IF YOU BELIEVE IN TRUE METAL + YOU DONT HAVE THIS THEN GET IT NOW!! THE ALBUM THAT FIRST BROUGHT THE KINGS OF METAL TO MY LIFE + IS STILL AS MASSIVE NOW AS IT WAS THEN! MY MOST PLAYED MANOWAR ALBUM AFTER GODS OF WAR FILLED WITH METAL ANTHEMS! YOU'L NEVER TURN DOWN AGAIN!
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5.0 out of 5 stars REAL MEN CAN'T COUNT TO TEN!, 7 April 2013
By 
Pesto Fingeration (Chez Vegas, Englandland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
Do you like Baby Oil?
Do you like Furry nappies?
Do you lack a sense of Humour?
Do you like Signs?
Do you like Hammers?
Are you from Portugal?
Can you count to Ten?

Picking your favourite MANOWAR album is a lot harder than picking your nose.
Today however it's Sign of the Hammer. Why? Because I've just listened to it!
Opening Track "All Men Play on Ten" spells out in no uncertain terms how one must stay true to one's self and to the power of METAL! It forms part of my METAL MANIFESTO!
Other highlights are Thor (the Powerhead), the Title track and last track "Guyana" which is a slow burning monolithic MONSTER of a song all about the cult suicide by the members of Jim Jones' People's Church. So stick that in your pipe all those of you who think Manowar are just mindless Misogynists.

So, if you like METAL - BUY IT!!!!

If you don't like METAL - BUY IT, you soon will!!!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Decent rock music, 13 May 2012
By 
COBBY (Fareham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
Bought this on the strength of a previous review as it`s the first Manowar album i own. Haven`t listened to it a lot yet but it`s growing on me, it seems to be good basic rock music which can seem dated depending on your preference. My era was the 70`s UK rock (Sabbath, Nazareth, Purple etc) so to me this was quite a pleasant surprise. Glad i bought it and will collect more of their albums in the future.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Gem in Manowar's Back Catalogue, 16 May 2008
By 
J. M. Salinas (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
Not as well known or regarded as their later material such as Kings of Metal or Triumph of Steel, but Sign of the Hammer certainly is the record that set the tone for the future Manowar template.

After an interesting debut with Battle Hymns and a poor follow up with the intentionally more commercial/radio friendly Into Glory Ride, Sign of the Hammer was that difficult third album in which Manowar had to decide which way to go. Back to Battle Hymns or follow Into Glory Ride.

Well, album opener All Men Play On Ten says it all. A true statement of intentions.
Animals is dirty, sleazy, raunchy and ballsy.
Thor is just an ok album track that works better live with the sing a long chorus.
Mountains is much more introspective with a truly delighful instrumental middle section and effective wind sounds.
Then the tempo picks up again with the mighty Sign of The Hammer. Fast, galloping, thundering a band classic.
The rest of the album has a feeling of space filling with The Oath as another repertoire fast song and Thunderpick an extended instrumental intro to Guyana, a hard to classify mid tempo song that attempts to close the album on an epic tone.

The album is good, but perhaps suffers from poor production. Personally, if I was to think of an album not only for remastering, but re-recording, this would be my first candidate. Thor and Mountains could sound edgier and more epic and Guyana a lot more doom laden that it does.

But then, one can only wish.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
Sensational!
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Sign Of The Hammer
Sign Of The Hammer by Manowar (Audio CD - 1990)
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