Here is one of the most successful and epic heavy metal bands from the 80’s that most people have never heard of.

Manowar is an American traditional heavy metal band from Auburn, New York.  Formed in 1980, the group is known for their lyrics based on fantasy sword and sorcery and for the mythological topics they sing about, particular within the Norse mythology.  Many of their songs also pay tribute to the epicness of heavy metal music and to how “loud and bombastic” their sound is.  In an interview for MTV in February 2007, bassist Joey DeMaio stated that “these days, there’s a real lack of big, epic metal that is drenched with crushing guitars and choirs and orchestras, so it’s nice to be one of the few bands that’s actually doing that.”

In 1984 the band was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for delivering the loudest performance, a record which they have since broken on 2 occasions.  They also hold the record for the longest heavy metal concert after playing for 5 hours and 1 minute in Bulgaria in 2008.  They have also been known for their slogan, “Death to false metal.”

Although the band has never been a mainstream commercial success in the United States, they maintain a strong cult following there.  In 2008, a survey was conducted and it was reveled that Manowar had the largest fan following out of all other heavy metal bands from the 80’s with “Rush” tailing behind.  Manowar is extremely popular in the heavy metal scenes in Europe, Japan, Australia and South America.  Their dedicated fans are known as “Metal Warriors,” “Manowarriors,” “Immortals,” or “Brothers of Metal,” and collectively their fans are known as the “Army of Immortals.”  Their albums have sold over 9 million copies worldwide.

The band began in 1980 when Joey DeMaio, the future bassists of the band met guitarist Ross the Boss while working as a bass tech and fireworks manager for Black Sabbath on the “Heaven and Hell” tour.  Ross the Boss, a former member of the punk rock band, The Dictators, was a guitar player in Black Sabbath’s support band, “Shakin’ Street.”  The two bonded over their shared musical interests, became friends and decided to form a band.

At the end of the tour with Black Sabbath, the duo came together and formed Manowar.  To complete the band, they hired singer Eric Adams, a former classmate and friend of DeMaio, while the drums were manned by “The Rods” drummer, Carl Canedy.

The newly founded band began to have some small success playing small gigs and performing cover songs in various clubs and bars.  A few months after the band was formed, the members began to compose songs and and make contact with record companies which resulted in a demo recording known as “Demo 1981.”  Worn out by the stress of continuous performances, Canedy left the band and was replaced by Donnie Hamzik.

Based off what they heard from Manowar’s demo, Liberty Records offered the band a recording contract in 1981.  The label pressured the band to produce a good number of songs in a short time towards a debut album.  This resulted in their first album, “Battle Hymns,” being released the next year.  On the album, the legendary actor and director Orson Welles served as the albums narrator on the song “Dark Avenger.”

Soon after the albums release, Manowar started their first tour.  The band played as the supporting band for Ted Nugent, but their collaboration only lasted for a few months.  Shortly after, Manowar decided to put together their own tour by themselves and all of the arrangements were made in a few weeks by their manager.  Despite these setbacks, the band gained domestic fame on this short tour and also began to get their first European fans, particularly in the United Kingdom and Germany.  Stressed from the strain of the continuing performances, Hamzik decided to leave the band at the end of the tour and was replaced by the young and upcoming Scott Columbus.

In 1983, the band left Liberty Records and struck a deal with Megaforce Records in the US and “Music for Nations” in Europe, the last of which they signed the contract with their own blood.  By the time Manowar returned home, they immediately went into a a recording studio to produce their EP.  Due to the quantity and the quality of the songs they created, those recordings instead became the band’s second album, “Into Glory Ride.”  Their EP was actually published in 1983 with the title “Defender,” and contained the title track “Defender” which featured more work by Orson Welles.  The atmosphere of the entire album evoked classical heroic fantasy and mythology.  The album was one of the first predecessors to viking metal.  It contained several innovative features, both in style and sound, and led to a huge increase in the number of fans of the group, particularly in the United Kingdom, where the band planned a long tour that was ultimately cancelled.

The band has released over 12 albums from 1982 all the way to 2013.  Each one satisfying their massive fan base for more and more metal inspired fantasy and epicness.  The band hilariously dresses as viking warriors during their shows and seems to take their roles as viking gods very seriously.  It’s hard to tell if it’s meant to be a joke or if they actually believe that they are viking gods which I feel helps add to the feel and atmosphere of the band.  With their complicated and intricate guitar work, loud crunching guitar riffs, soaring vocals and magical and Nordic imagery, it’s easy to see why this band has such a huge following all over the world.  Even after all these years, the band continues to sound great and continues to release amazing albums.  Heavy metal may be dying out but Manowar will live forever.

Below are some of the bands biggest hits. Enjoy.  Death to False Metal!!