MANOWAR – Sign Of The Hammer

MANOWAR - Sign Of The Hammer


Release date: October 15, 1984

User Review
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Manowar is a band that has meant very much to very many Metalheads worldwide, with their to-the-bone attitude and undisguised (ab)use of Denim & Leather, thundergodz, iron underpants and the like. This image has lately been adopted by quite a lot of younger bands – the Italian Accent-Metal league for example, but although gods and warriors have been common subjects since the dawn of Heavy Rock, but Manowar is the one band who took these themes to the uttermost degree.

While not everyone agree with me when I say that Warriors of the World is a great album, and quite some agree with me when I say (or write) that the four and a half hour long drum solo in the middle of “Achilles – The Eight-legged Freak” of Triumph of Steel was very necessary, most will agree if I say that Sign of the Hammer is an all-time classic. From the mid-tempo, groooovy, opener “All Men Play on Ten” (eventually “All Women play on 11” – the all-time classic of feminist Metal, “All Men play IN Ten” – the all-time classic tribute to Bob Catley’s boys), with it’s fabulous drum and vocals-only verses where the unadulterated emotion of the young Eric Adams really shines through, and the bombastic, almost Black Sabbath-ish chorus to the speedy title track, “The Oath”, and especially “Animal”, where especially the latter has to be the perfect blend of Punk and Metal. All three are very basic, and does little to hide that fact, but still they rock like nuttin’ else. The title track has a Saxon vibe to it, “The Oath” is all screaming vocals and whining guitars (and bass!), and “Animal” is pure madness. Especially the last chorus, after a long drum crescendo, hits you like the Mighty Iron Hammer of Thor Blazing At The Speed of Eternal Light From the Crimson Sky.

Speaking of Thor, he is the subject of the next tune, entitled “Thor(geir) – The Powerhead”. Also a relatively mid-tempo song, “Thor” displays a great, bombastic intro and chorus, and great screams from Adams in the verses – “He held up his hammer HIIIGH”. It’s easy to hear that Adams’ voice is younger and less “mature” on the early albums, but the raw power in every word more than makes up for that. This shows well in “Mountains”, a slower, almost power ballad’ish tune – with “power” emphasized more than “ballad”, that is. The verses are very soft and gentle, but still the chorus shows why Manowar never has gotten much air play. Though, I feel this one could have been shortened down a little, especially the atmospheric part in the middle becomes sort of boring after a while.

This is not the case with the ending track, on the other hand – “Guyana (The Cult of the Damned)” is epic 80s Heavy Metal on its best. The intro shows excellently how a bass guitar can increase the depth of the sounds cape beyond the limits of guitars, the drum beat of the verse is a well-used (worn out?) one yes, but here it works grrrreat, to quote the “Frostie’s”- tiger, and the voice of Eric Adams get to show every side of itself here too, from the gentlest of the gentle to the majestic roar of the chorus. The guitar fills in the choruses are one of those small details which make a good song something more, and there’s plenty of riffing and groovy beats too, if that’s what you’re after.

I have yet to mention the bass solo “Thunderpick”. The sole reason for that is that although Joey DeMaio is a technically highly skilled bass player and among the best songwriters in the world of popular music, his solo breaks are not very listenable, to put it in a diplomatic way.

Still, go to the shop, buy this album, skip track 7, send out warning notices to your neighbors, turn the volume to 13,5, and ROCK!!!

  1. All Men Play on Ten
  2. Animal
  3. Thor – The Powerhead
  4. Mountains
  5. Sign of the Hammer
  6. The Oath
  7. Thunderpick
  8. Guyana (Cult of the Damned)


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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