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.
#1 by Juan Don on June 13, 2014 - 7:37 PM
I’m guessing the guy on the left, the one wearing leather panties, is the drummer. I am making the sign of the hammer.
#2 by John Nelson on June 13, 2014 - 7:54 PM
If you mean the second picture, that’s Joey DeMaio, their bass player and spirit animal.
#3 by Joel on June 13, 2014 - 9:56 PM
This is a beautiful piece of work.
#4 by Keith Spillett on June 13, 2014 - 10:19 PM
Thanks Joel. It was really meant to be an homage to HL Mencken, who I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about lately. This piece is meant to be done in the style he wrote William Jennings Bryan’s obituary.
If you want to see the master of the language really “play on 10” that is worth a good read.]
#5 by Joel on July 3, 2014 - 3:17 PM
I’ve been told before that I should read Mencken, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Apparently I need to change that.
#6 by Keith Spillett on July 7, 2014 - 8:53 AM
You would love the guy. He’s sharp, perceptive, cynical and hysterical.
He wrote what has come to be known as “The Bathtub Hoax”. It was a fake story about how bathtubs were created. To this day, the story is quoted as fact in many places. Imagine what he could have done with the Internet around?!?!
#7 by Fried Chicken And Metal on June 14, 2014 - 2:49 AM
…always one more try… not afraid to die…
#8 by theEARLofSWIRL on June 14, 2014 - 3:57 PM
#9 by dannyemills on June 16, 2014 - 8:42 AM
Loving your stuff – also, similarity of ManOwar to the native American inidians number 2: Both insist on utilising every last piece of the animals they have slain – after they gorge on the meat of their kill, they make buffalo skin gauntlets, buffalo bone guitar stands, buffalo skull hood ornaments and of course, buffalo scrotum hip flasks. I am reliably informed that the drummer suffered from alopecia at an early age and has used buffalo mane wig ever since he hunted his first plains buffalo. As a side business, ManOwar buffalo chest rugs have proved a commercially viable addition to the ManOwar brand and are even more significant as their musical stock maintians an influential but small cult market presence. And don’t knock a buffalo fur ‘mirkin’ till you’ve tried it.
Also, Spinal Tap’s first incarnation apparently appeared on TV in 1979 (‘The TV Show’ pilot – Wiki but no primary source unfortunately) and Manowar formed in 1980: Coincidence? My idea is that ManOwar saw this groundbreaking documentary and formed in order to express a solidarity with this burgeoning movement in heavy metal to publicised and promote the concerns of oppressed white, middle class males in a society unforgiving of their significant plight. In a world of complicated issues, a return to the clear, simple and wholesome values of the chivalrous middle-ages was the only sensible answer. I belive ‘Hail to England’ to be a perfect example of this patriotic and concise expression of simple historical values.
I believe their ‘American Indian’ cultural interest was part of an experimental phase ‘spearheaded’ (pardon the pun) by the bass player – Joey DiMaio. This seemed to usher in a broader sympathy with other oppressed warrior races (no doubt ‘ManOwar could justifiably self-identify as a distinct cultural ‘race’ (albeit with a very small genetic pool). It’s worth noting some historical inacurracies in respect to the choice of the album title ‘Triumph of Steel’ which is unlikely to have played any significant part in the plains Indian culture (Steel being a iron-alloy product of a large-scale industrial process).
#10 by dannyemills on June 16, 2014 - 8:45 AM
Reblogged this on Diary of a Sound Recorder and commented:
Hilarious article on ManOwar from my fave blogger of the moment
#11 by Michael Claymore on June 17, 2014 - 6:48 AM
Is that Nigel Tufnel on the far left of the first picture?
#12 by Keith Spillett on June 17, 2014 - 10:08 AM
Manowar is a parody of Spinal Tap!
#13 by Every Record Tells A Story on July 7, 2014 - 5:15 PM
They are the Defenders God has sent……to wear farcical costumes without a trace of irony.
#14 by b3rgaz on July 31, 2014 - 12:57 AM
Manowar, greatest metal band ever, and i found this absurd
#15 by Driger on March 5, 2016 - 4:56 AM
To experience ManOwaR, the Crown and the Ring, with a complete symphony orchestra and a choir on stage live. That’s epic! And this crazy satire is just ribbish! Hail to real metal!