It’s December and the year is now coming to a close. With new releases drastically slowing down, it’s the perfect time of year to take a step back and jam some of metal’s most classic and influential bands. For the rest of this month, the Ride into Glory team will be looking at some of our favorite songs from metal’s finest artists.
When it comes to bands of this caliber, it’s hard to pick a favorite album let alone a song! It’s not easy to single out one song as “better than everything else they did”, so most of us decided to approach this discussion from a completely sentimental perspective. Asking ourselves: “what is that one song of the band that I have the strongest emotional connection?”, it was suddenly easier than comparing songs as if there can be an objective quality ranking. These bands are titans of heavy metal for a reason and you can expect to read about our personal connections and anecdotes related to them in this series.
Up first are the legendary Manowar. We’d love to hear what your favorite tracks from this band are as well and why in the comments below!
Secret of Steel (Marco, Rhandgar, and Brandon Corsair)
Marco: I named this entire website Ride into Glory because of “Secret of Steel”. I don’t have to say anymore than that – the song does all the speaking for me.
Rhandgar: Somewhere between “being a bike riding hard rocking heavy metal band” and “uniting the warriors of the world in stadium concerts with arena anthems” Manowar actually found the formula of the most fist-raising, heart-pumping epic heavy metal. Even though that formula seems to have been lost in time, thankfully they didn’t hold it in their heart to never reveal and we actually got to hear those 80s Manowar albums. All these early albums feature at least one track that is pure epic heavy metal between some questionable album intro samples and even more questionable bass solo choices. These tracks with mid-tempo paces that still make your heart beat faster, lyrics that want to make you shout along, and riffs that won’t leave your mind or minds of next generations of bands are the highest of the peaks Manowar have reached in their discography. A side-note, I always thought these songs are the most Cirith Ungol-like outputs of Manowar. If you want one song that carries the best of all these qualities, it is “Secret of Steel” for me, the song that got me fully into the band after my early days of “Hail and Kill” and never left me ever since. Thankfully, it was not only the secret of steel they discovered, but also some of the best examples of epic heavy metal back in the days.
Brandon Corsair: Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m obsessed with slow and epic heavy metal. I particularly like it when the riffs are repetitive, building a sense of tension and almost a trance while the vocalist sings something memorable over the top. Manowar may not have invented that formula- to some extent, you could argue that bands like Black Sabbath, Scorpions, and Rainbow had individual songs that fit all of that criteria- but with the most epic songs on Into Glory Ride Manowar certainly perfected that idea, and “Secret of Steel” is the one that embodies that the best. Manly choirs, songwriting clever enough to stretch out just a couple riffs into something nearly six minutes long, and riffs that flow like molten lava down the side of a mountain come together to form the blueprint of one of the best types of heavy metal while one of the genre’s most iconic vocalists croons about metal, power, and a great sword of steel. How can you not love that?
Blood of My Enemies (Quorton)
This is the best way Manowar could start an album. It has every element that makes Manowar amazing concentrated in one single spine-chilling song. Already on the intro, the menacing bass of Joey is like a herald of the destruction to come and when the verse kicks in, the whole rhythmic section pounds like a whole artillery division with Eric straining his voice into more desperate heights with every passing minute. Saying that the chorus is triumphant is quite an understatement, this is an epic fearless battle cavalry charge in music form. As if all of it was not enough, the solo is fast and exciting but punctuates the pummeling rhythm when needed. This is a masterpiece and one of the finest epic metal songs ever written.
Battle Hymns (nkane92)
Not only the closer, but “Battle Hymns” is an epic song that Manowar would use as a benchmark for their following albums. It’s grand, huge, and builds up to that high that we all love to sing along to. It has remained as my favorite since I first heard it. It is probably the song listed often as the fan favorite, but it certainly deserves it. This song is definitely what you want to hear before charging into enemy lines as it fills you with hope of a triumphant battle. “Battle Hymns” helped formulate the epic metal sound in the early 1980s with its grandiose lyrics, bombastic riffs and drums, but also the dynamics. The bridge in the middle before the solo section really makes the last half of the song stand out more. Especially the last few stanzas of the song where Eric Adams lets his voice loose and wails over the top of the music. The rest of the band are not slouching either. Donnie Hamzik hammers out fills with precision while the guitars shimmer with leads and riffs. If I had to pick one song to choose for someone not exposed to Manowar and get them hooked, “Battle Hymns” would be it without a doubt for me.
Bridge of Death (Boone)
Manowar’s influence on epic heavy metal has been discussed on this site previously and “Bridge of Death” is a prime example of why. Through all the cheese and theater, its easy to discount Manowar’s ability as songwriters, but Bridge of Death represents one of the finest epics in heavy metal. Eric Adam’s signature brand of soaring vocals take us through a tale of a mortal making good on his deal with the devil by offering up his soul, showing an often untold enthusiastic point-of-view of this scenario, which is the most Manowar thing I’ve ever heard. Manowar’s typical unique and almost comically punchy bass production give powerful accent to Eric’s vocal lines, allowing the song to achieve a certain ethereal, otherworldly nature almost in spite of itself. Its one of those songs that will make you stop and think “wow, there is really something special here, isn’t there?”. Or, at the very least get the final chorus stuck in your head for days like it does me! Enjoy, hail, and kill.
More than any other band, Bathory has marked a before and after in my life. I always admired the gradual shift to more epic territory that came with Blood Fire Death and fully realized with both Hammerheart and Twilight of the God. It is no wonder why Sign of the Hammer continues to be the Manowar album I go back to the most. Manowar’s first three records are all classics in their own right, but The Sign of the Hammer has the honor of having both of the band’s finest songs – “Thor (The Powerhead)” and “Mountains”. Once you listen to both tracks, you find the entire blueprint of Quorthon’s sonic evolution in Bathory. I could have chosen either track, but “Mountains” slightly beats it for its sheer epicness. The whole song advances at a very slow pace, largely being guided by the power of Eric’s vocal prowess and advancing to a crescendo of loud, thundering drums, distorted guitars and background chants. It may not be the fastest and fast pounding Manowar track, but one where you can’t feel but get lost in its grandeur.
Gates of Valhalla (Deathofthesun)
As soon as the bands were decided for this, it was immediately clear the Manowar pick was coming from Into Glory Ride. From there, though, it got tougher to narrow down … even with the knowledge at least one other person picked “Secret of Steel.” So let’s go with “Gates of Valhalla” instead. If anything, it’s the Manowar epic that should be even longer, with the ending bringing with it a palpable sense of, “… already?”