THERE can be no doubting that when the sneering, shoe gazing numpties who scorn heavy metal conjure up a clichéd image, that of Manowar must spring to their minds; partially clad, long hair, indulgent soloing and lyrical nonsense about fighting and mythical battles.
But those self-same numpties would have had their skulls shaken by the volume when Manowar played the Mandeall Hall last week, and their brains fried by a level of musicianship few can attain. What is more, despite the sheer aural assault, the clear mix would have left them gaping in awe.
Sure even the most staunch metal fan can have reservations about Manowar, seeing as they disappeared into the Teutonic wilderness with much ranting about Norse legends. But on this tour Manowar are back to what they do best - delivering metal with a hammer blow.
Appropriately the anniversary of their début album saw almost the entirety of that platter delivered with aplomb. The first run through of the titula Manowar seemed a little strained in places, perhaps a band wearied on the last night of their tour. But thereafter they hit their stride, with Fast Taker, Shell Shock and Dark Avenger showing that Manowar are not one dimensional.
Sure the solos were a bit over the top (an eight string bass with a whammy bar!) and Eric Adams kept nipping off the stage (for oxygen, water, beer or to entertain a Scandanavian wench?) but overall it is hard to fault the overall performance.
Cocksure they may be, but Manowar don't deal with the fluff and flattery; the nasty whiff of misogyny may pervade some of Joey De Maio's gestures to female fans, but Manowar were unrepentant in their singular quest to play heavy metal "loud as it can be".
After the Battle Hymn outing the set veered throughout their later outings, with Hail and Kill notable. It was on the Fighting the World tour that Joey and company last played Belfast.
After awarding a metal ambassador from....Donaghadee, Manowar ended with a full on blitz and Black Wind, Fire and Steel ending in a cacopohny of feedback and blasts as De Maio ripped strings off his bass and Adams proving his pipes would blast Bieber off his feet and into a coma.
Manowar are to some an anachronism, but a loud and proud anachronism. It is worth, for a moment putting them in their place in metal history. When they kicked off their lengthy career they were unapologetic opponents of a hair metal scene that had mediocrity amidst a few shining stars. They were seen as retrograde classic metallers as thrash injected speed and fury into the music. But they have never faltered from their belief that they are the best at what they do, and few can argue with that. They have out lived many of their contemporaries, and one hopes that they keep their promise to return, this time hopefully with a more stirring number of tickets shifted.
Born to live forevermore? Just ask one new devotee I stumbled across as his jaw gaped...damn right Manowar are!