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Manowar 

With Immortal, Soulles, and Mindscape. Friday, May 17, at Peabody's.

It's usually pretty easy to laugh at Manowar's credo, "Death to False Metal." (It's even easier to snicker at their bikers-in-loincloths image.) But when a band is still doing things its way 20 years after its debut and celebrating that fact with a tour this mind-blowing, you gotta show some goddamned respect. The dudes are on the brink of dropping their ninth studio album, and they haven't changed their sound a bit. No hip-hop influences, no corpse-paint makeup -- nothing but pure power metal: a head-crushing blend of 1970s bombast and early '80s thrash fury. The self-described (and, at least in Europe, undisputed) "Kings of Metal" are touring in support of Warriors of the World, slated for a June release on Metal Blade, and they've got one of the best black metal acts around opening the show in Immortal, a ferocious Norwegian three-piece that's bridging the gap between black metal's hissy-fit rage and old-school thrash's grinding power. Make no mistake: This is one of the best, purest metal shows likely to hit town this year. No self-respecting headbanger should be anywhere else that night.

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