REVIEW: VISIGOTH – “Bells Of Awakening” [EP]
Rising American metal stars Visigoth returns, riding on the coattails of the success of their highly acclaimed sophomore album ‘Conqueror’s Oath’ last year, with a brand new EP, ‘Bells of Awakening’. This EP is actually the band’s first EP release on Metal Blade Records and is also their first release to not feature the band’s logo. Upon looking at the album cover, the lyrical content of the music is immediately given away. After tackling Magic the Gathering and Dungeon & Dragons, Visigoth has now tackled the legendary Dark Souls franchise.
For those who are not familiar with the band, Visigoth hails from Salt Lake City, Utah and is a five-piece metal band that plays a blend of USPM (American Power Metal) mixed with some traditional and epic heavy metal. They are one of the most successful bands of the recent revival of USPM and epic heavy metal which includes bands like Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, Gatekeeper, Terminus, Weaponlord, Demon Bitch, and Traveler. If you love the sound of the 80’s USPBM bands like Omen, Jag Panzer, Manilla Road, Brocas Helm, and Liege Lord, this is the band for you. If you do like that sound, you most likely have listened to Visigoth anyways as they are the tour de force of the style these days. If not, it’s always never too late to start now and join in on the fun.
‘Bells of Awakening’ contains only two tracks. That’s it. It’s short but it’s sweet. The EP kicks off with the song “Fireseeker”. This track is absolutely just pure fun. The opening is quite melodic, even for Visigoth, as it just propels you with a “UGH!” and goes into a wonderful introductory solo. The interplay between the vocal melody and the guitar’s responses heavily reminds me of Khemmis (mainly ‘Desolation’) which can be heard throughout this track which was a delightful surprise. The production on the track is a little more compressed than before (also kinda like Khemmis but even louder) which works in the song’s favor as the guitars and vocals are more forward in the mix and sound brighter while the drums hit a bit harder while maintaining resonant. The vocal lines for this song are also quite melodic for the band too and definitely reminds me of some of the melodic sensibility of the vocals of Khemmis albeit not as sorrowful. Jake Rogers sounds amazing on this track. His tone is clear, diction is crisp, and he is well articulated. “Fireseeker” is easily one of the Visigoth’s best tracks vocally but it’s also a very vocal focused track, you won’t find the band’s best guitar work on this track aside from the solos. The addition of layered vocals on the final chorus to achieve a choral effect gives me goosebumps. It’s excellent. This track is a banger and is definitely one of my favorites of the band. Stylistically, I would say it’s comparable to ‘Iron Brotherhood’, ‘Hammerforged’, and maybe even “The Conqueror’s Oath”.
The second song “Abysswalker” starts with a blistering rapid-fire drum fill from Mikey T. that immediately injects energy to the track. The guitars of Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana suddenly slams in to deliver a dual guitar attack as the riffs bounce between the two players. Compared to “Fireseeker”, “Abysswalker” is the more upbeat track as the drums and vocals both have faster rhythmic lines. However, once the vocal lines start, the guitars die down and drop more into the background but pick pack up as it helps propel the second verse forward. The chorus on this track, oh boy. It’s a simple chorus but it’s so catchy, epic, and easy to sing along to. The same melodic sensibilities from “Fireseeker” bleed into this track during the bridge. “Abysswalker” also has a bombastic dual guitar section that leads up to some of the band’s best solo. To “Fireseeker”, “Abysswalker” definitely has more emphasis on the guitars but the band did not sacrifice the absolute blast of a chorus. My only gripe with this track is that the first verse could have used some more rhythmic support as parts of the verses are a bit wordy which costed the song some additional melody that could be found throughout this EP. Stylistically, “Abysswalker” is comparable to songs like “Creature of Desire”, “Outlive Them All”, and “Blades in the Night”.
Both songs could have used a little more bass as the basslines didn’t stand out and felt buried, underused, and simple. A stronger presence from the bass would have been appreciated but it’s not exactly necessary. These two songs are still great and are some of my favorite Visigoth songs but I would definitely like to see more exhilarating bass work in the future. My biggest issue with ‘Bells of Awakening’ is that it’s way too short and felt too short; two tracks and less than 10 minutes of music. It’s such a tease! Visigoth’s first EP, ‘Final Spell’ is more than double the length! Really wished there were two more tracks but alas, it won’t happen….yet. If you haven’t already, be sure to listen to ‘Conqueror’s Oath’ and ‘The Revenant King’ for more Visigoth goodness.
‘Bells of Awakening’ is a terribly short but extremely entertainingly EP that continues to show that Visigoth still got what it takes to keep pushing forward with their sound without dipping in quality. If the EP is any indication of their next album then fans will have nothing to fear but everything to look forward to. ‘Bells of Awakening’ showcases some of the band’s best performances and fans should not pass on it, even though it will leave the fans hungry for some more. Praise the sun! Hail Visigoth!