Raw Uk - 7 1988
Interview taken by Dave Ling
Manowar have spent the past few years proclaiming "Death to false Metal" and searching for the key to "Real Metal". Now, with their sixth album, "Kings Of Metal", out on the streets, bassist Joey DeMaio once again takes the oath of the Mannish philosophy.
"We're just doing what Manowar does, and that's one thing that'll never change." - Joey DeMaio, Manowar bassist on the band's new LP, 'Kings Of Metal'.
'Suddenly, a gust of wind came up from the North and there a lone rider appeared, holding a sword of steel. Then from the South came another bearing a battleaxe. From the East came a third, holding a spiked club. Finally, from the West, a rider who wielded a great hammer of war. With them came their Soldiers Of Death, followed by an Army Of Immortals. They were few in number but the look in their eyes told all who beheld them that they would leave this day only in victory or death.' -narrated excerpt from 'The Warrior's Prayer', a track from 'Kings Of Metal.'
"I'm happy to let people have their say about what we do, but the thing you have to respect about Manowar is that we believe in it. If people want to snigger it's up to them, that's why we have the following we have today; I'd rather have 10,000 warriors than a million posers." Joey DeMaio.
To the impartial observer, affairs of late in the Manowar camp might seem to have taker a downward turn. The band's fifth album, 'Fighting The World' (their debut last year for the Atlantic label), failed to take the charts by storm, and after the completion of their sixth LP, 'Kings Of Metal', they were rocked by the unexpected departure of guitarist and co-founder, Ross The Boss. The message from the remaining trio of Eric Adams (lead vocals), Joey DeMaio (bass) and Scott Columbus (drums) isn't one of complete despair, however, it's more one of adventure and confidence. New recruit David Shankle - nicknamed 'The Death Dealer'- has brought new blood and enthusiasm to the ranks, ensuring that the New Yorkers' campaign for 'Real Metal' will continue unabated. Shankle has already forged himself a formidable reputation in his native Chicago, having won a 'Guitar Wars' s competition, and had a guitar presented to him by ex-Journey superstar Neal Schon. He's played onstage with the band at the Cat Club in Manhattan and during a low-key appearance at a Heavy Metal disco in Syracuse, upstate New York and Joey DeMaio is pleased to report that his performance was more than satisfactory.
"He even got to play a guitar solo and was given a great welcome by the fans. Dave's speciality is to play with two hand over the neck and the crowd just freaked."
There was no bad vibe at all when Ross left," he continues. "He and I started the band for a specific reason: to go out and play 'True Metal' louder, heavier and wilder than anyone else. He felt he'd achieved that. Also, Ross was a blues guitarist and he felt he'd contributed all he could to Manowar in terms of Metal. He left us with a clear conscience, because we've now got a guitarist who's a total Metal player."
With their latest (and probably their most grandiose) album, Kings Of Metal the quintet have finally outdone themselves in the 'Warrior Kings' image stakes, producing a masculine Metal album that's rib tickling in the extreme. Manowar have never done any thing by halves, and 'Kings . . .' is almost certain to be hailed as the band's most across-the-board effort to date. Produced digitally by the group themselves at Universal Recording in Chicago, it's Manowar at their very best, incorporating their usual beefed-up melodies (listen to 'Wheels Of Fire', 'Blood Of The Kings' and the immense title track itself) and some unexpected classical traits. But what really steals the show is the foursome's outrageous sense of macho imagery and leather 'n' loincloth lyrics. On 'The Crown And The Ring' and 'Hail And Kill' they've even brought in a full choir to augment their classical tendencies. But the real show-stopper is Side Two's 'The Warrior's Prayer', a lengthy narration track which tells the tale of how four warriors (guess who?!) tackle a mighty army in hand-to-hand combat on an open plain (and obvious reference to the bands who continue to play 'False Metal!) It's truly hilarious stuff that manages to take the polish off what would otherwise be a truly excellent album.
"Our English tour manager Paul Clarke told me that a lot of English people would probably look at it that way, but in America everyone who's heard it has loved it," reports Joey. "The narrative tells the story of the band and everything we've done until this point; it sows the concept of the 'Kings Of Metal' There's been a lot of suffering in Manowar, we've been around for a while but we haven't compromised and because of that we've grown bigger. We've put our suffering into this track, but we're glad to pay in our own blood at any time for what we do."
Manowar. They may well take Metal to its most ridiculous extremes, they may claim to be Kings Of Metal, and they most certainly insist on including at least one song about speakers exploding on every album, but as Joey points, out,
"It all happens to be a reality."