Very traditionalist in attitude and lyrics (whose motto is 'Death To False Metal'), this quartet from Auburn New York, U.S.A. formed in 1980 with bassist Joey DeMaio (former Black Sabbath roadie) and ex-Shakin' Street/ex-Dictators guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman. With Eric Adams (vocals) and Donnie Hamzik (drums) joining shortly later they set about to become the antithesis of melodic AOR. Dressing in animal skins and with Adams' barbaric vocals, complete with the dense heavy riffing of DeMaio, they achieved their goal.
Their 1982 debut, Battle Hymns, was a no-holds-bard landmark to the Heavy Metal genre. With the lyrical content centered on blood, carnage, war and fighting they set their mold for years to come. They came across as a steroid pumped hybrid of Ted Nugent and Black Sabbath. The most noted feature of this album was the powerful rendition of the William Tell Overture, played as an electric bass solo piece; as well as the track Dark Avenger, featuring an overdub of the voice of Orson Welles. Despite its incredible impact on the Metal genre the press treated it as if it were a joke, like something out of Spinal Tap. This was further compounded by the album not selling well on release, which caused 'Liberty' (their label) to promptly drop them. (In history it became a valued collector's item, which was re-released on CD in the 1990s). Soon after, Scott Columbus took over the drum stool and it wasn't long before 'Megaforce' ('Music For Nations') stepped to the plate to sign them. Using a ceremonial dagger, they cut their veins then signed the contract using their own blood.
Into Glory Ride (1983) was another floor pounding barbaric Heavy Metal blast much in the style of their previous effort but without the notoriety. By this time, however, the act had established a loyal fan base despite their 1983-84 U.K. tour receiving poor turnout (their European tour shortly after proved more successful). Hail To England (1984) would be their victory cry over this tour; it failed to impress commercially, however. Sign Of The Hammer (1985), the follow-up, amounted to some of their most accessible music to date. It featured excellent guitar work from Ross "The Boss", who was now starting to shine. The record also boasted the Metal anthem All Men Play On 10. As usual, the record flopped commercially; as did its 1987 follow-up, Fighting The World, despite its Kiss and Judas Priest influenced songwriting. This "more mainstream" approach was quickly abandoned and cited as their worst effort yet (especially with silly tracks like Blow Your Speakers ranking as the record's best). These two albums, however, gave Manowar some notoriety with the Guinness Book Of Records when they were listed as the world's loudest band for the subsequent tours by managing to sustain play at 160 decibels!
Kings Of Metal, released the following year, met the same fate as its predecessors. Ross "The Boss" would quit soon after to be replaced by Dave Shankel (a.k.a. Death Dealer), with Scott Columbus following two years later but he too would be replaced, this time by Rhino (Real Name: Kenny Earl) on their 1992 opus Triumph Of Steel.
Triumph Of Steel would see them departing 'Atlantic' and recruiting 'Geffen' in their never ending battle for the Secrets Of Steel (1993) and their declaration of being Louder Than Hell (1996). Karl Logan took over a guitar spot at this point. 2 double CD live sets followed in 1997 and 1999 respectively titled Hell On Wheels and Hell On Stage. Warriors Of The World (2002) would be the next studio effort; their interest in homeland America was now waning, but their popularity was still strong in Europe.
In 2003, DeMaio founded his own record label, 'Magic Circle Music', which became the official home of the band, having been created to fit the needs of Manowar, and other bands of similar genre. Under the label 'Magic Circle' were also released the EP The Sons of Odin in 2007 with footage taken during the Earthshaker Fest 2005. The EP consisted of two discs: the first playing the regular track list; the second playing the song Father in fifteen different languages.
Later that year, on October 15, 2010 Joey DeMaio announced on Facebook that Hamzik was officially a member of Manowar again after a 26-year absence.
Scott Columbus died on April 4, 2011 aged 54 under a veil on controversy over his departure in 2008.
Manowar's next studio album, The Lord of Steel, was released worldwide on June 16, 2012 exclusively on iTunes and on the band's own online store. The album sees a reversion from the symphonic elements present on the Gods of War album back to a more straightforward, heavy metal sound.
Late 2013, Manowar re-recorded their 1988 release Kings Of Metal with an expected release date of late 2013. Brian Blessed would do the narration for the track The Warrior's Prayer. Like the re-recording of Battle Hymns MMXI, this album allowed the band to use modern day technology. Kings of Metal MMXIV was released through iTunes as a digital download on 4 February 2014. Hard copies of the album were released on 28 February of that year.