Manowar – Hell on Wheels (Review)

Strangely, for a band renowned for their live show and their tinnitus-inducing black wind of volume, it took a long time for Manowar to release a live album. Released in 1997, the New Yorkers’ long-awaited debut live release Hell On Wheels couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointing.

Selected from multiple dates, the album does a fine job of capturing Manowar’s punishingly loud live sound, with vocalist Eric Adams fighting to be heard amongst the din. It kicks off in powerful style with the iconic Orson Welles intro and the perennial Manowar. Fan faves like Kill With Power follow suit but the ill-conceived grouping of guitar solo, piano interlude and the cheesy ballad Courage kills the momentum too early in the proceedings. The superb Blood Of My Enemies and Hail And Kill put the show back on a triumphant track but Joey DeMaio’s overlong bass solo Black Arrows soon arrives to spoil the fun. With less time-wasting and mighty classics like Thor (The Powerhead) and Battle Hymn, the album’s second half is more enjoyable but there’s too much representation from 1996’s disappointing Louder Than Hell and songs like Return Of The Warlord and Carry On aren’t fit for their climatic positions in the set.

With 15 years of incredible material to draw from Hell On Wheels could and should have been so much better than this. With prudent use of the skip button there’s some great fun to be had but the album is marred by its padding and poor pacing. “Other bands play, Manowar kill” but Manowar’s first live album is poorly executed.

10 thoughts on “Manowar – Hell on Wheels (Review)”

  1. I can’t really offer much of a comment as I, sadly, don’t really know much Manowar. I remember Gene Simmons calling them the worst band in the world several times. And I recall one kid in highschool loved them. Especially a tune called “Guyana Cult of the Damned”.

    So, to quote Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that!

    But seriously Orson Welles did a voiceover for this? Before or after this?


    1. Fair enough, they’re a bit of a Marmite band certainly! I’ve heard Robert Plant have a pop at them too! In the immortal words of David Coverdale “if you don’t feel it then you’ll never understand”. 🙂
      Guyana is a TUNE. One of my very favourites.
      Haha that Orson Welles clip is amazing. I’d imagine he worked with Manowar after that… in 1982 I think. He did narration for 2 songs and recorded the fantastic stage intro announcement. One of the best concerts intros… really gets the blood pumping! What a voice!


      1. I need to hear these guys so I can decide for myself. I wonder why I never heard them before? Did they make music videos?


      2. Only a few but I probably wouldn’t start there! Haha. Well, check out Gloves of Metal on youtube for a chuckle.
        Album wise, Hail to England is essential! Seriously, at their best the band is peerless. Any of the 80s albums with Ross the Boss are worth hearing though if you like 80s Metal. And I know you do!


      3. I like the juxtaposition of the caveman Flintstones clothes, with the spikes. Surely that must have been a first.

        Musically I don’t mind this at all. Lyrically I don’t think I can shout along in the car with the windows down!


      4. It’s good stuff! The first song I ever heard and the one that converted me was Battle Hymn off their debut album. So I thought that might be a good place to start for you.

        I think Manowar lyrics would be the ones I’d be most likely to sing from a car! Haha thankfully I don’t drive…


  2. Live After Death and World Wide Live were great. I liked the Sabbath Reunion as well. Maybe cause it was also one of the most intense concerts Ive seen live…mid 90’s want to say…96ish


    1. All great albums. I was at one of the Birmingham shows that was recorded for that Sabbath album. Fantastic concert!
      I thought you might like Dokken’s Beast from the East? Thinking about doing that one too…


  3. Dokken was hit or miss for me. Like their music I never really liked their act fr some reason. Heard Don might team up w/ Michael Schenker…would be interesting.

    Another great live album If You Want Blood…AC/DC


    1. That’s a good one but that was before 1985… there were loads of great ones up to 1985 but not so many since then! Not so many real classics anyway.

      Thought you might like the Dokken one for the guitar playing. I’m not a huge fan of their albums (not too sure about Don’s voice) but I was surprised how good the live album is.


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