My Inspiration

Believe it or not, one of the questions I was asked quite a few times yesterday in Los Angeles was "Which Manowar album should I listen to first?"

No, I’m not making this up.

As part of the "hero" nomination related to the Heroes happen {Here} launch event, I was asked what was my inspiration – where did I get the strength and motivation to push myself to excel?

The answer, of course, was Manowar. This heavy metal band has been around since 1980, and have recorded some of the most powerful and inspirational music I’ve ever heard. Many of their songs include strong messages of personal empowerment – never give up, always demand the best from yourself, let no one stand between you and your goals no matter what happens.[1] Because Manowar (both the band and their music) have made such a big difference in my life, I wanted to do what I could to share that passion with the world[2], so in the photos that you’ll see around the launch event I’m wearing my Manowar "Sign of the Hammer" t-shirt. And quite a few people noticed that and came up to me to ask me questions.

"Are you serious?" Yes.

"Are they really that good?" No – they’re much better.

"What album should I listen to first?" Kings of Metal.[3]

Manowar’s 1988 album Kings of Metal is my personal favorite album, and it features many of their best songs, including Kingdom Come, Heart of Steel and The Crown and the Ring. If you’re going to buy only one Manowar album, this is the one to get.

Unfortunately, the current version of this album contains a bonus track that (in my humble opinion) should never have been released. It is a somewhat satirical take on a classic science fiction novel, but it comes across to me as very negative and misogynistic, and to me it ruins the rest of the album. Fortunately, you can purchase DRM-free MP3 versions of Manowar’s albums from their online store, and you can skip the bonus track if you want to.

In any event, Manowar’s music has made a distinct and profound difference on my life, inspiring me to always be better today than I was yesterday. If you’re open-minded enough to try something new, I strongly encourage you to get Kings of Metal (or any other Manowar album – maybe all of them!) and crank it up the next time you sit down to write some code. And when you do – let me know what you think.


[1] Of course, there are also many themes of warriors and battles and more physical struggles, with Viking imagery in many songs throughout their long career. Often these themes represent the metaphorical struggle to fight against the demons within and the demons without, but sometimes they’re just great powerful heavy metal. And sometimes they’re both. 😉

[2] Just like I try to share my passion for SQL Server, BI and SSIS here, just a lot louder.

[3] My wife (the other source of inspiration in my life 😉 would argue with me here. She very much prefers Manowar’s latest studio release, the 2007 album Gods of War. Gods of War represents something of a change in Manowar’s sound, with a much more epic and orchestral feel. It’s definitely a great album, and if pounding drums and screaming guitar aren’t your cup of tea, you may want to get it before Kings of Metal, but I stand by my first recommendation.


About ssimagine

My name is Matthew Roche, and I am a Senior Program Manager with the SQL Server product group at Microsoft. I work on Master Data Services and Data Quality Services, and have previously worked on SQL Server Integration Services. Although I work for Microsoft and will be posting on technical topics, I want to stress that this is a personal blog, and any opinions posted here are mine and mine alone. I built my career around SQL Server and Microsoft technologies for well over a decade before I joined Microsoft as an employee, and I plan on using this blog to share my personal experience and opinions. They may well be shaped by my experience on the SQL Server team, but they’re still mine, and not that of Microsoft, disclaimer, disclaimer, etc., etc..
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One Response to My Inspiration

  1. Right on! I’ll have to check out Gods of War now.

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