By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
”Lusting for blood and death again.“ ”I will hunt you down and tear you limb from limb.“ ”Ride through their blood.“ ”Today the blood of battle upon my weapons will never dry.“ ”My enemies all shall die. Die! Die! Die!“
Such is the balladry of Joey DeMaio, from Warriors of the World, the latest document by Manowar, a true heavy metal band of the old school. Why should it be, the bassist-songwriter has always wondered, that he and his platoon have not ascended to rock Valhalla in their American fatherland? For lo, they have toured and recorded these long 21 years, slogging like legionnaires, putting all opposition to flight in Europe, where metal has never bowed its head.With their animal skins, their black leather, their pumped muscles straining against breastplates, the Manowar four don‘t lack for an image that’s . . . strong. Their instrumental chops are cutting edge. And voxman Eric Adams possesses a harshly operatic tenor that can make any singer this side of Ronnie James Dio cower. So what‘s been the problem? Could it have been something about the blood and killing?
Thanks be to Thor, blood and killing are for everybody now. March homeward, Manowar. Your time has come.
Following 9112001, every veterinarian, florist and taco vendor grabbed a flag and a saber, so metal musicians, kings of aggro, were far from putting a sock in it. These included some of my fave artists among the old-line rock crushers. Approaching the event from the flanks, Dio, who has always brought a poetic and philosophical turn to his excess, contented himself with ”Oh to never be afraidOf wolves at the door . . .Time to be killing the dragon again.“ KMFDM, a more ambiguous gang, titled their latest CD Attak and observed, to a lurching, mechanical beat, ”Temper tantrum you communicateIt’s your nature to be coldAutomatic how you operateSystem failureBraincontrol AttakReload.“
Others just went for the throat. ”My God will kill your god,“ foamed WASP‘s Blackie Lawless, a former military-school student who descends from a family of religious devotees. Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde used his recent Ozzfest pulpit to storm, ”When we kick Iraq‘s ass, they’ll know the reason -- rock and fucking roll.“ This was no shocker coming from a man whose beloved father rolled tanks in World War II, who plucked a lovely acoustic-guitar rendition of ”America the Beautiful“ to conclude his monster-mashing 2002 release 1919Eternal, and who has opened a number of sporting events with his explosive electric extrapolation on ”The Star-Spangled Banner.“
Midway through the set, Yngwie finished his guitar-solo spot with ”The Star-Spangled Banner.“ The crowd of about 1,500 people started immediately booing very loudly and throwing shit onstage. The crowd started chanting, ”OSAMA!! OSAMA!!!“ . . . After the final song, the band went to the dressing room. I told Yngwie, ”I refuse to go out for the encore under any circumstances, FUCK THESE PEOPLE.“ Yngwie went back onstage by himself and played ”The Star-Spangled Banner“ again to a choir of loud boos. He then said on the microphone, ”God bless America, and FUCK YOU ALL“ and walked offstage. The crowd went into a riot.
Malmsteen‘s 2002 CD is called Attack. With a C. But he was already a model of military preparedness; his last one, in 2000, was War To End All Wars.
Well, times have sure changed since 1969 and Woodstock, when Jimi Hendrix interpreted the national anthem for its ”land of the free“ implications rather than its patrioticmartial content. Hendrix is always cited as a progenitor of heavy metal, and so, of course, is Black Sabbath, which kicked off its 1970 Paranoid with ”War Pigs.“ But Jimi and Ozzy were hippies.
Joey DeMaio is not a hippie. He was influenced by Black Sabbath. He was even a tech roadie for Black Sabbath. But something about the Sabs’ ”the war machine keeps turning“ nonviolence propaganda must have chafed his cuirass. In fact, there was little peace in the Sabbath sound, and starting a band that combined warlike sounds with a warlike message must have seemed as natural as hamstringing a hoplite.
DeMaio co-parented Manowar around 1980 with Adams and Ross ”The Boss“ Friedman, who a few years earlier had been lead chopsman of the Dictators, a rather well-respected New York joke band. While some would say that Ross‘ enlistment reinforced his predilection for joke bands, both groups walked unusual tightropes, and hardcore metalheads speak of the early Manowar albums with considerable awe.
The Boss really blew his chance at historic convergence, though, when he split in 1988, setting off a Manowar personnel crisis that wouldn’t be resolved for years. In the meantime, before the band could record its next album, a little thing called the Persian Gulf War came and went.
Now, that must have hurt. Here was a battlefield made to be blitzed by Manowar. But while Hank Williams Jr. and others were out there pumping up flaccid careers by throwing down on ol‘ ”Sodom“ Hussein, DeMaio’s restless regiment was bivouacked far behind the frontlines. Subsequent Manowar manifestoes would show no loss of balls -- the group released two back-to-back double live CDs in the late ‘90s -- but there was a lurking impression that their time had passed.