In The Hallowed Halls of True Satire, no comic acts have attained the lofty heights that Manowar has reached by accident. Charlie Chaplin, Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George W. Bush….no one is on par with Manowar. It’s not even close.
An odd mixture of Goebellsian fascist imagery, arrested pre-teen angst and Rodgers and Hammerstein, Manowar have created an act that aims to stretch the boundaries of the absurd far beyond their breaking point.
The sheer earnestness with which they fight for a cause that is not really being threatened is breathtaking. They are defenders of a faith that no one has. Protectors of a mythos so silly that it is hard to imagine that they can stand on stage for an hour and a half without breaking into fits of laughter. Yet they soldier on, without a hint of the joke that only they do not get.
If you’ve been to a Manowar show, you know what I’m talking about. What can be said of a band whose claim to fame is playing at a volume so beyond the limits of what the human eardrum can handle that one would think they were part of a secret government conspiracy to infect all metal fans with tinnitus?
When I saw them, every one of the 300 or so fans around me had their fist clasped within their hand waiving it in a salute called “The Sign of The Hammer”. Mussolini couldn’t keep a straight face. Yet somehow, Manowar does.
Joey DeMaio, the band’s bass player and spiritual center, actually came out when I saw them and read this rambling, demented love letter from a fan about the life-changing power of Manowar’s music. Even the most devout, snake-passing evangelical would chuckle at this trick. Yet somehow, Manowar does not.
The case for Manowar as the greatest comedy act is easy to make. Anyone who has listened to them can easily tick off some of the highlights. Who can forget the “letter they wrote to ‘The MTV’ and the Radio (singular)” where they say “What’s going on? Don’t you care about me?” Or the thrity one second note Eric Adams warbles through at the end of “Black Wind, Fire and Steel”?
Try the Manowar drinking game sometime. Listen to their whole discography in order and take a shot every time the words “fire” or “steel” appear in a song. You will be unable to drive halfway through “Battle Hymns”, unable to walk or speak by “Fighting The World” and by the time “Triumph of Steel” comes around, there is a good chance you’ll be in a coma.
If you can’t see the sheer comedic genius in this, the last few pieces of evidence should seal the deal for you.
Exhibit A: “Metal Warriors“
Forget for a moment that they continuously encourage “wimps and posers to leave the hall”. Forget that within the first minute of the song the Disneyesque lyric “there’s magic in the metal, there’s magic in us all” appears.
They build the song to a dramatic verse which ends with the unfathomable words “got to make it louder, all men play on ten, if you’re not into metal, you are not my friend”. In case you missed it the first time, Adams howls the same verse at the top of his lungs only seconds later.
Exhibit B: “Spirit Horse of The Cherokee”
There have been many poignant tributes to the plight of Native Americans. This is not one of them. I’m not sure what kinship Manowar feel with Native Americans. They both have long hair. That’s all I can come up with.
Still, that doesn’t stop Eric Adams from punctuating the chorus with a ridiculous made-up Cherokee war cry without a hint of irony. Or from screaming “Let The White Man Die!!!”.
Are they aware that they are white? Probably not. This is Custer’s Last Stand and they are Sitting Bull and his army of Lakota Warriors. They have taken this bizarro fantasy so far that they are actually capable of believing it.
Exhibit C: “Guyana (Cult of The Damned)”
If you ever want to illustrate Manowar’s talent for ridiculousness to the uninitiated, this is the song to do it with. Long before they were rallying Native Americans to slaughter white men, they managed to write a song meant to highlight the horrors experienced in the 1970s during the mass suicide by Jim Jones’ People’s Temple in an event known as The Jonestown Massacre.
Only Manowar would have the temerity to begin a song about such a somber topic with the line “Thank you for the Kool-Aid, Reverend Jim”. And only Manowar could finish this seven minute catastophe with the haunting words “MOTHER! MOTHER!”
Although this article is clearly meant to mock Manowar, it is also meant to be a genuine tribute. They pull this nonsense off seamlessly and with a sense of timing that some of the greatest comics could never match. Few have ever scaled to such imaginary heights. Few have ever soared like eagles to this proverbial “rainbow in the sky”
There is only one Manowar. They are a gift from The Gods of Heavy Metal to remind us of the feats men can achieve when completely detached from reality.