Testosterone alert! Manowar's Fire and Blood two-DVD set contains almost five hours of – in the immortal words of bassist Joey DeMaio – "heavy fuckin' metal,'' played by long-haired men in tight leather pants and leather vests, with rippling muscles and a "don't-fuck-with-me" attitude. They bring women on stage who flash their breasts and then make out with DeMaio. They chug beer from cans held two feet above their mouths. They sing songs called "Blood of the Kings," "Master of the Wind" and "Hail and Kill." But thank God, they no longer wear loincloths.
Fire and Blood is one of the best metal DVDs available, from the on-screen graphics and bonus features to the music performances and offstage adventures. The first disc, "Hell On Earth Part 2," captures footage from almost 30 shows in nine countries during Manowar's 1998 "Hell On Stage" European tour. In between performances are well-produced documentary-style, behind-the-scenes action and interviews with band members – usually about specific songs or what kind of women populate a given country. There's even a segment that celebrates Manowar tattoos. This is also the first time that full-length versions of classics like "Bridge of Death," "Hatred" and "Guyana" have been captured live on film. Bonus features include deleted scenes, as well as other performances.
The second disc, "Blood in Brazil," documents Manowar's performance as "special guests" at the 1998 Philips Monsters of Rock festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition to the full set – which features singer Eric Adams in an often-screamed performance that's not as engaging as the ones on Disc One – camera crews chronicle the band's day from its arrival at the hotel and the venue to the second it leaves the stage. For a gig that also included Dream Theater, Savatage and Slayer, the guys in Manowar seem extremely confident that they are the highlight of the festival. And bonus interviews with two of Manowar's tech engineers and a rock journalist who covered the event (but who, frankly, would be better off doing PR for the band) don't dispute that claim.
After almost five hours of Manowar, the band's ego and "true metal" shtick can wear thin. But maybe it's no shtick. Offstage, these four guys act just like the metal warriors in their songs. And they appear to be likeable fellas who dearly love their fans – going so far as to invite some of them to join the band onstage every night for "The Gods Made Heavy Metal." Plus, if you can get past some of the "die with pride" lyrics, there's no denying that Manowar in 1998 (and now, for that matter) made some of the best heavy fuckin' metal on the planet. This stuff should be blasting out of every U.S. tank as troops make their way across the Iraqi desert toward Baghdad.
One question: Why – save for live bonus performances of two songs from 2002's Warriors of the World CD – is there no footage more recent than five years ago? Maybe Manowar is saving that material for "Hell On Earth Part 3."