I caught up with Danny last week. He was excited. Manowar had finally released their new album, their first in six years. "Yeah bro the kings of metal are back!" he roared. I sensed some falseness in his tone. A bit forced perhaps. We sat down and watched some TV. "Remember that day when we first heard 'Louder Than Hell'?" Danny reminisced. I remembered. It was 1996. Metal was dying.


We were room mates at the time. We were both broke students going to college. Metal was our way of life. Half the time we didn't even show up to class. We got up at midday, opened a Pepsi or two and listened to metal. Then we went out to college for a few hours just to keep up appearances. Late in 96' I saw Manowar's new one on the shelf. I'd never heard them before. I was interested. I passed it up. Even though we were living in San Diego I had never seen any Manowar CD's. Then one cold Saturday afternoon I was parking in the driveway and I saw Danny standing there waiting. "Come in inside, hurry up man!" he yelled impatiently. "Whooohooo!" the dude screamed on the way inside. I asked what was going on. Danny pressed play on the CD player. "Manowar bro, Manowar" he said. It played. It was the metal we had dreamed of. Finally a band who knew how we felt. They walked it like they talked it. Live for metal, die for metal. To hell with the unbelievers!


We played 'Louder Than Hell' non stop. Danny went out and ordered every CD they had ever made. The price was steep. "Barry ripped me off man!" he said, refering to our mate at the local college record store. "By my reasoning I paid thirty seven dollars for 'Kings Of Metal'!" he ranted. Still we got down to the metal. It consumed every minute of the day. Danny could never quite comprehend how metal magazines could give Manowar one out of five or ten. "How in clear conscience could a metal magazine, that is supposed o support METAL, give them a low rating and take the piss!?" I nodded in agreement. "Even that fraud Dani Filth says 'Louder Than Hell' is crap! It makes Pantera look like Poison dude!" he insisted.


Time went on. Manowar released a live album. "Seen that live album man?" Danny came home rambling one day. "All their hits! Gotta get it!" I reminded him it cost thirty five bucks. Not worth it. Now we had graduated college, maybe a waste of money. "To hell with you man!" he said storming off. Danny bought it. As we listened I saw him pretending to like it. "Yeah boy. On the same level as The Who live in 75." Truthfully it was dull. Danny knew it. "Just because I'm getting older, doesn't mean I don't have to stop listening to metal. Right?" I said nothing. "I'll be the thirty year old still buying Cannibal Corpse CD's, getting strange looks, yeah that's me......'


Four years after 'Louder Than Hell' I had gotten married. Danny was still going to college. He had found the working life a bit too much. Danny had one day bought Manowar's second live album. It was worse than the first. I still bought CD's. Not as frequently. Money was too tight. If I got something, it was a well considered choice. Danny kept buying all the new bands however. He was still experimenting. Half way through the latest live debacle Danny turned it off. He went home. I listened to some Krokus in peace.


Two weeks ago Manowar finally released a new album, 'Warriors Of The World'. I knew about it of course. I got a free copy for a website I was writing for to review. It wasn't up to much. I gave it a tepid review. Danny came over later on that week, CD in hand. Trying to look excited he put it in, oblivious that I had already heard it. Through th e 48 minute bore fest he just sat there, occasionly banging his head. Then, without warning I got up and started headbanging like a maniac. "Yeah, kings of metal man" I bellowed "Get up dude, going to town on this one!" Danny was shocked. "Settle down man, this is shit" was his reply.


Danny left town last week. He read my review. "You have to call it like you see it" he reasoned. Yesterday he called me from San Francisco. We told some dirty jokes. Danny told me he was going to kill himself. I tried to talk him out of it. He hung up. Later on his mother called. Danny had shot himself in the heart. He died from blood loss. Years back he had lost his foot in a motorcycle accident. The non stop pain of that and realising he had no passion for metal left spelled the end. In his walkman when he died was a copy of U.D.O.'s 'Timebomb.' I looked around. Laughed. Then I went to bed.