Getting Into: Manowar


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS
Published: 29.03.2015


The articles in this series begun by our own Baz Anderson are designed to give a brief overview of a band's entire discography, so as to provide a clear point of entry for the uninitiated. It offers a different approach from the typical review format, for the curious newcomer to a well-traveled band.

Manowar
Heavy/power metal
USA

Manowar helped kick off the American power metal scene back in the '80s with their self-referential bombast and overdriven melodic metal. While their fame stems as much from their seemingly-blissful goofiness (and… 'memorable' artwork) as from their music, if not more so, their catalogue holds the resources to back up the years of shameless chest-pounding.


Battle Hymns (1982)

Battle Hymns is only about 50% truly Manowar. It features the first in Joey DeMaio's series of ridiculous bass solos and narration from the legendary Orson Welles on the powerful classic "Dark Avenger" - yet this album, for the most part, has more of a rock'n'roll feel than a heavy metal one. It's almost quaint, in a way; the tin can drums, chunky, fuzzy guitars, and youthful exuberance make it slightly silly in a different manner from their later efforts. Still, while it is the most uneven of their 1980s releases, the rawness and energy make it a fun album, and the title track transitions well into their future sound.
Standout Tracks: "Fast Taker," "Dark Avenger," "Battle Hymn"

Into Glory Ride (1983)

Into Glory Ride boasts a much more recognizably heavy metal sound, as well as vastly more complex songwriting and the dawn of a uniquely Manowar style. While still somewhat rough, it is much tighter and stronger than Battle Hymns, and hosts several classic Manowar staples. It is also much more ambitious, and remains one of the artsiest (even proggiest) entries in their catalogue. The flexible, heavily-distorted guitar-and-bass tag-team that would go on to define the sound of 1980s Manowar makes its debut here, as does drummer Scott Columbus - a former blacksmith notorious for pounding his drum kits into oblivion.
Standout Tracks: "Gloves Of Metal," "Gates Of Valhalla," "March For Revenge (By The Soldiers Of Death)"






Hail To England (1984)

Hail To England may easily be spoken of in the same breath as Into Glory Ride; it stands as a refinement of the style broached by Manowar on their second album. They shed the last vestiges of rock'n'roll influence and stripped away unnecessary layers (except for "Black Arrows," another solo bass piece), leaving much shorter songs and their most dynamic, accessible work up to that point. This means less virtuosic interplay, but the assault of two different lead instruments through very melodic lines still creates a powerful effect. Many consider this to be the apex of Manowar's career, and with the sheer, exorbitant power behind these songs, that's not an unfair assertion.
Standout Tracks: "Blood Of My Enemies," "Kill With Power," "Hail To England," "Army Of The Immortals"

Sign Of The Hammer (1984)

Sign Of The Hammer brings more of the same simplified power, though it doesn't achieve the same success or consistency as its predecessor. It begins to decline after "Thor (The Powerhead)," one of the quintessential Manowar songs, and feels largely overshadowed by the albums which bookend it. While still a good listen, this album might best be left until later on, as it has less to offer someone not already familiar with and a fan of Manowar.
Standout Tracks: "Thor (The Powerhead)," "Guyana (Cult Of The Damned)," "Animals"






Fighting The World (1987)

While clearly only Manowar could have wrought this, Fighting The World stands apart somewhat oddly from their other albums: a bit poppier, more varied in structure, consumed by a reckless disregard for its own pretensions, and transcendent in a way that seems almost accidental. It sounds almost like a strange combination of the bright, self-assured youthfulness exhibited on Battle Hymns and the darker, heavier anthems of the albums in between. This album's true quality is difficult to quantify, and on the surface it remains another silly work of self-aggrandizing sing-alongs, but it can hold a great deal of power.
Standout Tracks: "Fighting The World," "Carry On," "Defender," "Black Wind, Fire And Steel"

Kings Of Metal (1988)

Kings Of Metal is Manowar's flagship album, if there were such a thing, and probably the best place to start for a curious listener. It contains a number of their signature works and some of their strongest songwriting, if perhaps also the least consistent. Distracting, obnoxious interludes and a purely absurd bonus track inexplicably inserted into the middle of the track list detract from an otherwise excellent album, proving that nothing is ever simple with Manowar. Yet amongst the chaff lie multiple classics, making Kings Of Metal, if difficult at times, impossible to ignore.
Standout Tracks: "Kings Of Metal," "Heart Of Steel," "Kingdom Come," "Hail And Kill"






The Triumph Of Steel (1992)

The Triumph Of Steel bridges the gap between Manowar's classic lineup and what would become their next longstanding lineup, with David Shankle and Kenny "Rhino" Edwards replacing Ross the Boss and Scott Columbus, respectively. It therefore has a different sound from the previous releases - tighter and cleaner, but also in some ways thinner and more lifeless. The album opens with a pointlessly overblown 28-minute epic, a poor choice in many ways. While it has some good concepts and is worth a listen or two, it does not justify its own length by any means and only serves to scare off inquirers. Push past and The Triumph Of Steel holds many virtues that, for all the differences, make it a strong album nonetheless.
Standout Tracks: "Metal Warriors," "Spirit Horse Of The Cherokee," "Master Of The Wind"

Louder Than Hell (1996)

Louder Than Hell offers one of the strongest openings in Manowar history, but little else. The cracks finally start to show on this album, with most of the songs sounding passionless, recycled, or stale, despite the return of Scott Columbus and addition of current guitarist Karl Logan to replace David Shankle. While it might be worth having for "Return Of The Warlord" alone, Louder Than Hell otherwise serves as an unpleasant reminder that even Manowar age, and not always gracefully.
Standout Tracks: "Return Of The Warlord," "Brothers Of Metal"






Warriors Of The World (2002)

Warriors Of The World provides a refreshing breath of air in between a few lackluster releases. Its familiar bombast, rejuvenated presentation, and surprisingly strong songwriting hearken back to a time when Manowar were at the top of their game. It might accurately be called the last Manowar album truly deserving of the designation. While more symphonic in tone than past releases and a bit stiff at times, with this return to power also still suffering from the lack of Ross the Boss and Scott Columbus, Warriors Of The World remains the strongest and most consistent Manowar album of at least the last 20 years.
Standout Tracks: "The Fight For Freedom," "Warriors Of The World United," "Hand Of Doom"

Gods Of War (2007)

Muddled by onerous segues, narrations, and superfluous transitions, Gods Of War spends too much time building up what is essentially a collection of straightforward, if admittedly catchy, heavy metal tunes. Like much of 21st-century Manowar, it has an unfortunately flat, compressed sound, though the undeniable hooks save it from sounding completely lifeless. The choral piece "Army Of The Dead, Part 1" is one of Manowar's more interesting compositions, and the capstone "Die For Metal" encapsulates everything that was ever great about Manowar. What lies in between can often be worth the weathering, but note that it is a dense and often dull installment. Unfortunately, this was the last album to feature Scott Columbus, who departed the band afterwards and died in 2011.
Standout Tracks: "King Of Kings," "Army Of The Dead, Part 1," "Sleipnir," "Die For Metal"






Battle Hymns MMXI (2010)

Re-recording an entire album is rarely a good idea, and Battle Hymns MMXI is no exception. While their debut was indeed a rough recording and might benefit from modern production technology (which was Manowar's excuse for this little venture), it was also not exactly their strongest album, and relied heavily on that "first album smell" to keep it flowing. Ultimately, it fails to make a compelling case for its existence, and while Sir Christopher Lee steps in to fill the void left by Orson Welles in a narrative capacity, there isn't much else of interest to be found.
Standout Tracks: None, really. Listen to the original release.

The Lord Of Steel (2012)

Yet another unfortunate example of Manowar ruining their own great album for everyone, The Lord Of Steel does not lack in the songwriting department. The quality falls off in the second half, as with many albums, but overall it could easily be a standout album in their discography. The problem lies with the production, which is about the worst you will ever hear inflicted upon an album outside of black metal. Whatever bass …And Justice For All lost, The Lord Of Steel found. The album has its definite gems, and is well worth a listen - provided you can stand a full minute of the production.
Standout Tracks: "Born In A Grave," "Righteous Glory," "Touch The Sky"






Kings Of Metal MMXIV (2014)

Another re-recording, and an even more pointless abomination than the last one. Buy it only for the purpose of burning it.
Standout Tracks: "The Warrior's Prayer," ironically one of the skippable narrated tracks from the original, but this time around presented by Brian Blessed and therefore the only piece worth listening to.


--

Overview

While at present Manowar has left off on an impressively bad note, quality material is truthfully not hard to come by. Often it is hard to look past the sheer absurdity that dogs much of Manowar's career, especially if you don't have the stomach for that sort of posturing. Despite this and the preposterous self-detonation they have been experiencing in recent years, Manowar have put a lot of worthwhile records on the wall, and cannot be discounted as an influence on the power and heavy metal scenes of subsequent generations.



 



Written on 29.03.2015 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 24   Visited by: 391 users
29.03.2015 - 05:01
Lit.
Account deleted
No mention of the Dawn Of Battle EP? The title track is probably the only song I've ever truly enjoyed by this band.
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29.03.2015 - 05:16
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Guest on 29.03.2015 at 05:01

No mention of the Dawn Of Battle EP? The title track is probably the only song I've ever truly enjoyed by this band.

Yeah, I decided to keep it in line with the original article series and stick to full albums. Plus, if I were to do EPs, I'd have to listen to two others as well and I don't feel like going through Thunder In The Sky with 16 versions of the same crappy song.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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29.03.2015 - 11:42
fandango68
Many thanks for the article SSUS; I appreciate the work you've put in. I haven't read others in the series but think it's an excellent idea. As someone who only heard the first 5 albums during the '80s, reading the trajectory of the bands discography over the past 30 plus years like this has been an interesting diversion.
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First gig was Manowar (loincloths 'n' all), Bristol Colston Hall in March 1983, on the 'Hail to England' tour. Tickets were £3.75, 300 in the audience, Mercyful Fate never showed, but my hearing still got seriously trashed..
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29.03.2015 - 21:35
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by fandango68 on 29.03.2015 at 11:42

Many thanks for the article SSUS; I appreciate the work you've put in. I haven't read others in the series but think it's an excellent idea. As someone who only heard the first 5 albums during the '80s, reading the trajectory of the bands discography over the past 30 plus years like this has been an interesting diversion.

Thank you for reading it. The trajectory, unfortunately, has taken a turn for the worse recently, but it is still interesting to map it all out together.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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30.03.2015 - 01:19
Bad English
Masterchief
Kings of posers, all idea about this band, true metal and such shit makes me more go rebellion and and I proudly can say I don't like Manowar, King Diamond, Venom ... yes I insult so called true die hard metal fans, so what?

80's albums was good, later some good songs, but spoken parts and so on, seems they more thought where to stick their ''swords' at night, as compose good music
even band says they are anti posers, but they are biggest there

I don't mind 80's , its great HM , BTW Blood Of My Enemies, Edge Of sanity is best version

Anyway Blow your speakers its classic pop song ...

I like this article
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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30.03.2015 - 07:54
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by deadone on 30.03.2015 at 07:52

Great idea for an article!

We have Baz to thank for that one. I thought so myself, which is why I decided to continue the tradition. I plan on doing at least a few more, eventually.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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30.03.2015 - 14:43
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by deadone on 30.03.2015 at 07:52

Great idea for an article!


Judas Priest
http://metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=285

Gamma Ray
http://metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=371

Sonata Artica
http://metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=680

Type O Negative
http://metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=860

Enslaved
http://metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=1161
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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31.03.2015 - 12:41
raveneffect
It always cracks me up viewing old pictures of Conan Manowar, no matter how many times I do it.
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01.04.2015 - 18:12
Maco
Handbanana
I don't like too much Manowar.
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I'm derp.
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03.04.2015 - 16:53
Aristarchos
My personal favourite song by Manowar is Courage from Louder Than Hell. I wouldn't personally rate Fighting The World as any of their best albums, even if it has its moments, especially Carry On.
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09.04.2015 - 15:03
Daniell
_爱情_
I'm glad to see thyat you appreciate "The Triumph of Steel" which, minus the ridiculous half-an-hour-long "Achilles .. something" is a solid album.

As for "Kings of Metal". "Pleasure Slave" (I assmue that's the song you're referring to as "purely absurd bonus track" is actually a great song with excellent riffs. It was recorded during the same session as the rest of the album, but added much later as a bonus track. I'm surprised you don't like it.
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Now loving:
Hour of Penance - Cast the First Stone
Hate - Indestructible Pillar
Cradle of Filth - Heartbreak and Seance
Dark Tranquillity - Nothing To No One
Immolation - Swarm of Terror
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10.04.2015 - 01:09
BitterCOld
Gringo
I'll be getting away from manowar, but nice work on your part.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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10.04.2015 - 06:07
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by BitterCOld on 10.04.2015 at 01:09

I'll be getting away from manowar, but nice work on your part.

Thank you. I can't blame you.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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10.04.2015 - 17:25
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Very nice work, Kevin.

Consider me in that lot who never hate Manowar albums to this date. Sometimes, they're cheesy, creepy, irritating and sloppy in songwriting/lyrics but I never hate the quality Manowar has put it in. Whenever I have to write a long piece of Business Analysis Report, I always murmur Warriors Of The World. Pretty weird, right?

So, I appreciate this article and the way it has been presented.
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10.04.2015 - 19:35
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 10.04.2015 at 17:25

Very nice work, Kevin.

Consider me in that lot who never hate Manowar albums to this date. Sometimes, they're cheesy, creepy, irritating and sloppy in songwriting/lyrics but I never hate the quality Manowar has put it in. Whenever I have to write a long piece of Business Analysis Report, I always murmur Warriors Of The World. Pretty weird, right?

So, I appreciate this article and the way it has been presented.

Thank you. I often find myself doing the same thing.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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15.04.2015 - 03:48
Guib
Thrash Talker
Hey that was one nice article man!

Very interesting, actually made me wanna check a couple albums by the band that I overlooked.
Can't wait to see the next band you're gonna review that way, I'll be reading for sure.
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- I love my technical, melodic, my thrash, agressive and fast paced, my sludge, well thought, my heavy, heavier and my metal, ever-growing -
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15.04.2015 - 14:42
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Guib on 15.04.2015 at 03:48

Hey that was one nice article man!

Very interesting, actually made me wanna check a couple albums by the band that I overlooked.
Can't wait to see the next band you're gonna review that way, I'll be reading for sure.

Thanks. They take a while to do, but I think they're fun, and they apparently work.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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16.04.2015 - 07:23
Amy
No matter how hard I try I can't seem to like Manowar. They're almost like a parody of their own genre.
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17.04.2015 - 19:46
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by Amy on 16.04.2015 at 07:23

No matter how hard I try I can't seem to like Manowar. They're almost like a parody of their own genre.


in some point I agree, but 80's albums was good musically
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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17.04.2015 - 21:28
musclassia
I'm glad to see this series getting a revival, I liked quite a lot of the old Getting Into articles. I'm somewhat tempted to have a go at one such article (perhaps for Amorphis), but keep them coming if you plan to! However, not even this article could convince me to give Manowar another go; there's only so many hours in a day
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26.04.2015 - 23:54
billy4metal
Absolutely spot on. I've been a fan since 1987 (although it gets more and more of a struggle...) and agree almost completely with your summary here.

Fighting the World, often maligned, has three of four absolute Manowar classics. The only two completely consistent albums are - as you suggest - probably Into Glory Ride and Hail to England.

But I have to say Kings of Metal will always make my favourite for all its multiple sins. The lyrics on Hail and Kill have made it almost unlistenable over time (notably the first few bars) and we must always ignore the all-time most awful Pleasure Slave - it wasn't on the original vinyl LP thankfully. But, all that said, Crown and the Ring and the gigantic and galloping finale Blood of the Kings have kept me smiling through many grey days.
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23.01.2016 - 20:13
Belegûr
Arise In Might!
I think Warriors of the World is one of the worst albums for track organisation I've ever heard. They made the mistake of leaving "The Dawn of Battle" from the album and then proceeded to split the album in half (almost). You start with "Call To Arms" which is a great opener, then the next 6 tracks are either ballads, instrumentals or covers. "The March" seems to be the segue into the fast part of the album. "Hand Doom", "House of Death" and "Fight Until We Die" are rapid and it just makes the album seem like a bit of a mess to me. I've even got a playlist for that album where I rearrange it.

1 - Call To Arms
2 - The Fight For Freedom
3 - House of Death
4 - Valhalla
5 - Swords In The Wind
6 - Warriors of the World United
7 - Hand of Doom
8 - An American Trilogy
9 - The March
10 - Fight Until We Die
11 - Nessun Dorma
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I also think The Triumph Of Steel is perhaps a bit overlooked. It's possibly my favourite Manowar album. The opener certainly doesn't need to 28 minutes long and I do skip the awful bass and drum solos. I created an edited mp3 where I took those out and it becomes what I think is arguably their best song. The rest of the album is pretty great.

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Gods Of War is another mixed bag. It's clear that they have some type of Wagner influence here, carrying a solid theme throughout an entire piece of music. I do like the main theme that is carried throughout this entire album, but they went a bit overboard and their lack of quality in the songwriting department is plain for all to see. The song titles are terrible. You have "Overture To Odin", "The Blood Of Odin", "Sons Of Odin", "Odin". Come on. They were a bit sneaky and threw in a generic "Die For Metal" piece of crap at the end and instead of continuing with this Gods of War thing (which they were going to), they reverted back to the metal metal metal songs and we got Lords of Steel, quite possibly their worst album if you don't count the pointless re recordings. They've completely lost the plot.


Anyway, I'm just rambling. I liked this article
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23.01.2016 - 20:32
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Belegûr on 23.01.2016 at 20:13

Many things

Thanks. These are fun to do and I wish I had the time to write them more often. Warriors of the World does have such poor organization that it's a rather awkward album to listen to, but in light of their subsequent material, I'm usually so relieved to find that the songs are passable and the production isn't godawful that I'm not bothered as much as I might be.

Triumph Of Steel is a pretty great album once you get past that magnificently stupid opening track. I myself almost never revisit the album because I don't want to deal with that, and for whatever reason it never occurs to me that I can just skip it. I should probably do that soon.

When I first bought Gods Of War, I was pretty happy with it, but it was also one of my first Manowar albums, so I think I just had a soft spot for it for that reason. Over the years I have become less enthused with it, especially as I collected more and more of their discography, and now I probably have more criticism than praise. "Army of the Dead, Part I" is still one of my favorite Manowar songs, but it's not often that I feel the need to revisit the album.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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23.01.2016 - 20:43
Belegûr
Arise In Might!
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 23.01.2016 at 20:32

Written by Belegûr on 23.01.2016 at 20:13

Many things

Thanks. These are fun to do and I wish I had the time to write them more often. Warriors of the World does have such poor organization that it's a rather awkward album to listen to, but in light of their subsequent material, I'm usually so relieved to find that the songs are passable and the production isn't godawful that I'm not bothered as much as I might be.

Triumph Of Steel is a pretty great album once you get past that magnificently stupid opening track. I myself almost never revisit the album because I don't want to deal with that, and for whatever reason it never occurs to me that I can just skip it. I should probably do that soon.

When I first bought Gods Of War, I was pretty happy with it, but it was also one of my first Manowar albums, so I think I just had a soft spot for it for that reason. Over the years I have become less enthused with it, especially as I collected more and more of their discography, and now I probably have more criticism than praise. "Army of the Dead, Part I" is still one of my favorite Manowar songs, but it's not often that I feel the need to revisit the album.



Yeah, Warriors does have some cracking songs on it. The organisation does annoy me, but the songs are strong. It was great hearing some of them live. i think with Triumph, I've listened to the opener that often that i am able to skip the solo sections with relative ease and keep the song flowing. It's a shame that the rest of the track suffers cause of those awful sections. Gods of War was my first Manowar album that was being released after a fan. I think I first heard them around 2003 so I was excited for Gods of War. I do like the album, but it has some really big faults. The instrumental songs are excellent to me though and I know a lot of people didn't like them. The narrated parts were more frustrating to me.
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