REVIEW: VISIGOTH – “Conqueror’s Oath”
You may have already read about my praises to the NWOTHM (short for New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal), and how the movement is a marvelous addition to our rich culture. Bands like Air Raid, Ambush, Enforcer, RAM, MidnightPriest and SkullFist grace us with epic tales and oldschool sound, keeping the Metal flame alive.
And then, of course, there is Visigoth. Bringing the epicness of ManillaRoad, CirithUngol and Omen with a little bit of doom in the shape of GrandMagus, all while refreshingly adding new elements to these consolidated sounds, the Salt Lake City natives burned everything down with masterfully crafted riffs and sheer greatness in their 2015 debut, ‘The Revenant King’. Three VERY long years later, the metal warriors are back with ‘Conqueror’s Oath’, set to be released on February, 8th via Metal Blade Records and with the almost impossible mission to surpass its predecessor.
Maintaining the same lineup from the first record, but changing a little bit of their songwriting style, the Americans, I’m glad to say, will not disappoint the fans of epic metal. Starting the album with a statement in “Steel and Silver”, JakeRogers (vocals), LeelandCampana (guitars), JamisonPalmer (guitars), MattBrotherton (bass) and Mikey T. (drums) make sure to show from the beginning why they are one of the most beloved and respected new acts out there. Epic, grandiose and inspired, the song stays true to the album’s title and conquers every metalhead hunger for the heydays of the genre.
“Warrior Queen”, first single released for the album, is definitely the song that reminds of ‘The Revenant King’ the most. The rock ‘n’ roll riffing and uplifting aura dictate the track, but the already characteristic choirs led by Rogers’ unique voice makes for another magical journey to the epic side of metal, not to mention the last verse and bridge, which are a show of their own.
Leaving the sword and sorcery behind and charging full-throttle to the jugular comes “Outlive Them All”, a fast-paced onslaught and one of the best songs in Visigoth’s career. This will make you want to smash your head into a wall, drink your own blood dripping from your face and then kill all your enemies in a berserk rage; it’s sheer bliss.
“Hammerforged” and “Traitor’s Gate” consolidate that small but noticeable change of sound from a doom-ish atmosphere to a more power metal one. The first one is a fist-pumping, head-banging hymn with yet another beautiful performance on the chorus, while “Traitor’s Gate” strikes swiftly but true, with a melancholic beginning that suddenly bursts into an aggressive track that matches perfectly with the lyrics.
If I had to choose the weakest bit here it would be “Salt City”. Paying homage to their home, Visigoth hits the spot in terms of atmosphere and service, but lacks a little bit in execution, making the song feel like a cheesy heavy metal version of “Detroit Rock City”. The second half of the album is in fact weaker than the first, but “Blades in the Night” and the title-track are far from being fillers or mediocre songs: both do their job well, each in their own style. “Blade in the Night” is straight-up heavy metal with little room for other elements, and “Conqueror’s Oath” is the denser, slower song here. The last one has a purer an sadder approach, with simple drumming and leads, which highlights the vocals and lyrical message rather than the instrumental itself.
Visigoth has managed to do what seemed almost impossible by improving their quality for ‘Conqueror’s Oath’, being it lyric, songwriting, instrumental or production-wise. I rarely have goosebumps these days when listening to music, but this album flooded me with those; so believe me, brother, when I say: this album is the definition of what Metal stands for, means and is. By playing from their heart and doing what they love, these warriors from Salt Lake City, from all places, are redefining Metal for future generations by keeping the core elements of what is perceived in the genre as the purest vision of the music and adding fresh ideas – albeit not entirely original – to the mix. All hail Visigoth, conquerors of Metal.