"The whole purpose of playing live is to blow people's heads off," says Manowar bassist Joey DeMaio . "That's what we do; that's the energy of this band. We're out there to kick ass. We're out there to turn our gear on and blast. We're out there to kill. That's what metal is. Anybody who says otherwise is not playing heavy metal. We will melt your face!"
With the double live CD, Hell On Stage Live, Manowar's first album for Metal Blade, the band proves that the rumors of metal's demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, metal's alive and well and still as devastating as ever. True to form, they are back with 16 tracks steeped in the august tradition of Deep Purple's Made in Japan , the Who's Live At Leeds and the Led Zep classic, The Song Remains The Same, giving fans what they've been waiting for.
The fans' appreciation of Manowar's various moods is just one component of an intense, magical bond between the band and their following. Stories of Manowar fan loyalty have become legendary. Fans constantly send the band letters signed in their own blood and photos of themselves tattooed with Manowar imagery. On the band's last European tour, a Norwegian acolyte flew over 1,000 miles South from beyond the Arctic Circle to see Manowar play in Oslo. When a group of Australian fans heard Manowar were playing in Japan, they caught a flight there and attended all four shows. Devotees in Argentina collected thousands of signatures pleading with the band to come to their country.
"We have the greatest fans in the world," attests drummer Scott Columbus . "For a long time, our fans have stood by us. They've given everything to the belief that together we are the defenders of the heavy metal faith. That's why we've been able to keep playing our brand of music. That's why we haven't wimped out or bowed to commercialism. Our fans are at the core of everything we do. That's the way it's been done from the beginning."
Manowar is born
In the beginning, Joey DeMaio was working as a bass/pyro tech for Black Sabbath. When Sabbath played a show at Newcastle City Hall in England, he hooked up with original Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss, who at the time was playing for Shakin Street, a Sabbath support band. As both shared an all-consuming love for in-your-face-metal, it was not long before they struck on the idea of Manowar. Later, having recruited the ultimate voice of heavy metal, Eric Adams (and drummer Donny Hamzik), Manowar recorded their debut album, Battle Hymns . It featured a bone chilling narration by legendary actor Orson Welles on the track " Dark Avenger ."
When Manowar joined forces with a new label, they signed their recording contract in blood, becoming the first band to demonstrate their commitment this way. Their second release, Into Glory Ride , featured the debut of Scott Columbus , a man so viscous with the sticks that standard drum kits simply fell to pieces under his awesome attack; hence the need for custom built, stainless steel drums.
Manowar hits the road
Recorded and mixed in six days, Manowar's third album was titled Hail To England . It heralded the band's debut tour of Great Britain. Not since the Vikings invaded Northeast England in 878 had the Isles seen such all-consuming power. The whole of Europe fell prey to Manowar with the "Spectacle Of Might" tour as the band slashed and burned their way across the continent in support of their fourth album, Sign Of The Hammer . It was then that Manowar entered the Guinness Book Of World Records as the world's loudest band.
On the heels of Sign Of The Hammer , the band released Fighting The World . Manowar took the whole of Europe by storm yet again in support of this record. All the while, the crowds swelled. Manowar satisfied the teeming hordes by playing wilder, louder and heavier, inviting fans to join them onstage to sing or even play guitar.
The band's next album, Kings Of Metal, a title bestowed on the men of Manowar by their international legion of fans, saw them push the sonic envelope even further. They traveled to England to record " The Crown And The Ring ," as well as other standout tracks, with the 100-voice, all-male Canoldir Choir in St. Paul's Cathedral in Birmingham. This majestic work also featured an orchestra, as did others on Kings Of Metal . Two tours were required to do justice to this landmark recording.
Manowar rides in victory
Fans waited four years for the band's next offering. During this period, Manowar built their own studio in New York; it was christened Haus Wanfried after composer Richard Wagner's house. From there unfolded the band's seventh album, The Triumph Of Steel , which boasted over 70 minutes of pure metal might. Inspired by Homer's "The Illad," the song " Achilles: Agony And Ecstasy In Eight Parts " clocked in at 28 minutes. The Triumph Of Steel entered the charts in Germany at number 35 and stormed its way to no. 8- without a single or video. When the album was released in Greece, Manowar fans laid siege to the largest record store in Athens to be among the first to hear the new disc.
Extra copies were rush delivered, so great was the demand for The Triumph Of Steel . The band played to over 15,000 metal maniacs in Athens' Stadium of Peace and Friendship in their first show there.
The band continued to play to packed halls. In Hanover, Germany they established a new standard in ear splitting power by breaking their Guinness record for loudest band in the world. Two sound specialists officiated, measuring and documenting with painstaking care as Manowar shook the city, playing live at a staggering 129.5 decibels through 10 tons of amplifiers and speakers measuring 40 feet in length and 21 feet in height. This astounding event was reported worldwide. Another highlight of the "Secrets Of Steel" tour was the band's first performance in Russia, where they had been voted the live act music fans would most like to see, beating out the Beatles and Michael Jackson.
Two years in the making, Manowar then released Louder Than Hell . "We're perfectionists," explains Joey of the lengthy interval. "Good songs do not grow on trees and great art does not abide by some arbitrary timetable. When we're inspired, we create. And when we create, our goal is to capture the attitude and power these songs possess when we play them live in the studio. Our live energy is the defining characteristic of this band."