Yes, I know, MANOWAR are beyond ridiculous- at least, to American ears. In much of Europe, though, they are revered as pioneers and icons of power metal, and they sound no more ridiculous or absurd than, say, HAMMERFALL or POWER QUEST.
Yet somehow they have never quite managed to reach the heights attained by their disciples. They didn't seem to benefit terribly much from the European power metal revival in the early 2000s that pushed so many absurdly silly yet unquestionably talented bands, like STRATOVARIUS and SONATA ARCTICA and others, to fame and fortune. They
Part of the reason undoubtedly had to do with the fact that their output has been extremely uneven over the years. They would routinely produce one great album (say, Battle Hymns, Kings of Metal, or of course their greatest album, The Triumph of Steel) and then follow it up with a lousy one (Sign of the Hammer, Louder Than Hell, Gods of War, that sort of thing).
Another part of it surely had to do with truly lousy business decisions. There is surely a reason why it turns out that all of the members of MANOWAR actually have secret day jobs and lives that are decidedly ordinary and not at all in line with their public image as metal warriors.
Despite this foolishness and the highly un-glamourous reality behind MANOWAR's ridiculous public posturing, when they stopped dicking around and actually tried to make some good music, they could do it very well indeed:
They could never be as good as the true progenitors of power metal- HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY, and to some extent BLIND GUARDIAN. They didn't have the staying power or songwriting chops for it. They did have the imagery and the over-the-top silliness needed to be good, but they didn't have enough to be truly great- though they looked like they might have been for a while with that monumental album of theirs, The Triumph of Steel.
But there is no denying that they could be, at times, very, very good indeed- no matter how ridiculously silly they were the rest of the time.
I have to admit, after they announced last year that they were embarking on a final farewell tour (though I honestly do think that they'll be "retired" for maybe two years at most before doing a "reunion"), I realised that, actually, I'm rather going to miss them...