Louder Than Hell: Hail Manowar, Kings of Volume

On August 3 1994, Manowar played a show in Hanover, Germany. It was an extremely fucking loud show – so loud, in fact, that Manowar officially became the loudest band of all time, notching up a skull-shattering 129.5 decibels of pure metal fury. This is just one of the many reasons why they deserve to be regarded as one of the greatest bands of all time, of course, but it is arguably the most significant because unlike many bands that seem to want to send their fans home with tinnitus screaming in their ears, Manowar’s pursuit of record-breaking volume has always been equalled by their devotion to generating the clearest and most precise sonic onslaught possible. Joey DeMaio is a man driven by a tireless obsession with technical perfection and the harnessing of state-of-the-art technology to deliver the ultimate live experience for Manowar’s notoriously rabid fan base. As a result, the band’s gigs inflict none of the uncomfortable distortion that other big budget shows unleash when faders are nudged up into the red. Instead, they always sound utterly fucking phenomenal.

But never mind the intricacies of Manowar’s stage gear or celebrating the 20th anniversary of their entry into the record books – instead, let’s just glory in the unashamed and unerring dedication to heavy metal that Joey and his comrades have exhibited from the very beginning. Manowar are a band that swiftly sort out the diehard metalheads from the casual observers. For those who think metal was a bit embarrassing until Dimebag Darrell stopped wearing make-up onstage, songs like Kill With Power, Gloves Of Metal and Hail And Kill are obviously never going to connect. But for those of us that embrace metal in all its grandiose, bombastic and preposterous glory, Manowar are the undisputed guardians of everything we hold dear. On a cultural and musical level they have contributed as much to cherished metallic tropes as anyone, not least due to their refusal to acknowledge passing trends but also because, contrary to the bewildered whining of non-believers, they have an uncanny knack for penning timeless anthems that resonate on a profound emotional level with metal fans all over the world. If you’re going to hurl yourself wholeheartedly into the world of metal and reject the notion that anything remotely serious or meaningful should be delivered with a knowing wink – just in case, you know, your cool friends are watching – then ownership of at least one Manowar album should be absolutely fucking mandatory.

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to watch Manowar perform in both Moscow and Istanbul. If anything proves how important the band are to the metal faithful, the overpowering communal sing-along that erupts during ageless calls-to-arms like Warriors Of The World and Heart Of Steel must be it. Wimps and poseurs are, of course, welcome to leave the hall at any time. But real brothers and sisters of steel know what I’m talking about. Long live the Kings Of Metal and their ludicrous walls of custom-built amps pushed to the limits of their capability. It really doesn’t get any more metal than that.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.