Listening now and it sounds pretty good overall. Eric sounds very good for the most part apart from when he really over screams some lines. His tone is still very rich when singing in his normal voice and not screaming. The guitars are pretty standard modern day Manowar but the lead work is much crisper. Most importantly the horrible distorted Joey bass sound from the last studio album is replaced by normal but thick bass tones, though they are very high in the mix of course and make your speakers thud more than a normal metal album would. I normally turn the bass level down when playing metal('cause I like more clarity on the vocals) but even with the bass down on -3(-5 max) on my hifi I can still hear the bass wobble on my player lol!
Heart of Steel is my fave song on the record and I love the new version renamed The Heart of Steel hehe. It's sung brilliantly by Eric of course. There are some subtle orchestral and acoustic changes as well which add a little more depth to this awesome ballad. I also like the punchier and stronger sounding choir vocals in most of the songs. A Warrior's Prayer sees Manowar's collaboration with Brian Blessed as 'Grandfather' and to be honest he is perfect although he does camp it up a touch hehe but Joey chose well. He should work with Mr Blessed again on future Manowar albums where narration is needed.
The Blood of The Kings has new lyrics with Eric hailing Manowarriors from newer domains across the globe. I enjoy this new version especially the chorus which sounds more melodic and epic. Kingdom Come renamed Thy Kingdom Come for this version is another very cool and more melodic approach. By the way they have this trait of adding "Thy" to the songs on this version. Pretentious much Joey? The Crown and The Ring changed to Thy Crown and Thy Ring for this album is one of those songs it's better not to fuck up cause the original is so spine tingling and thankfully they don't. It sounds more epic and triumphant than ever. Kudos to the choirs for sounding awesome. I don't know who Joey chose for that job but they are very good indeed.
Wheels of Fire is placed last on the new version so the track listing order is also changed as it was the opener on the original. I enjoy the new version it's just as helter skelter as the original although the guitars could be a bit thicker on this version. The chorus is great to belt along with no doubt. The lead work is sharper and crystal clear as well.
The album ends with two additional tracks which are different takes on two earlier classics. One is a metal version of Thy Crown and Thy Ring which to be honest is not much different than the original apart from some heavy power chords towards the end of the song. The album ends with a guitar instrumental version of The Heart of Steel with squealing stabs of melancholic and fluid guitar replacing Eric's vocals. It sounds quite nice to be honest and better than the other extra bonus song.
The album comes with a bonus disk of instrumental material which contains versions of every song apart from Warrior's Prayer which is non musical of course. These versions are quite nice to listen to and add a little more value to the album as a whole. Mind you I always enjoy hearing Eric's vocals so these versions I have to be in the mood for, but they are still a welcome addition as they still sound cool.
I think if you are a Manowar fan you'll enjoy this reworked album. It is slightly different than the original and not an exact carbon copy by any means. Some would say you shouldn't touch a classic but I don't agree. If you do a good job, a retouch is not such a bad thing and I think Manowar have made a decent fist of things here. Makes me forget that disappointing last album at least. Hopefully they will be a little more inspired by revisiting this album and make a better job on their next album though I ain't holding my breath.