Fantasy-based metal will never die, and we should be thankful for that. For as many bands as we have that espouse Satanism, political anger, depression, or guttural violence, we always will maintain a slew of bands that want to keep their head in stories past, great glories, and swords clashing with shields in the most primitive of environments.
Salt Lake City’s Visigoth are fully committed to the same path carved by bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol, Helloween, and many others before them, and they do so in such a natural, non-forced way that it’s not unheard of to find unbridled joy in their music. You’re not going to get songs about the state of the Union or social and political struggles, which is great, because we have other artists handling those topics. On their strong second effort “Conqueror’s Oath,” the band returns with eight pounders that will have you traveling into the past as wars are won on bloody battlefields adorned with chainmail-wearing warriors and horses raging and kicking up dust. It’s such a nice diversion from the hell that can be everyday life, and if you’re someone who indulges on NWOBHM, some of the bands from the U.S. power metal scene (Fates Warning is a natural callout) or even a modern act such as Grand Magus, you’ll find plenty to like with this record and band—vocalist Jake Rogers, guitarists Leeland Campana and Jamison Palmer, bassist Matt Brotherton, drummer Mikey T.
“Steel and Silver” kicks off the record as strongly as possible, rolling out an anthem that should be a live staple and a fan participation highlight. “Haunted by the shadows of the past,” Rogers wails as the music rambles and rules, as the massive chorus swells and causes the blood to boil in your veins. It’s a great opener, met by the next punch of “Warrior Queen,” a tale of a dominating figure coming in to claim her kingdom. Strong guitars and driving vocals pace this thing, and after a brief moment of solemnity in the middle as the bodies are counted, we mash our way toward the bloody final gates. “Outlive Them All” has an awesome early 1980s Maiden gallop, yet the delivery of the vocals reminds of Mike Kiske just a bit. “There can be only one!” is the hammering declaration on the chorus, surrounded by fast, raucous playing that tempers this nicely. “Hammerforged” has a channeled start, taking its time to get moving, but once it does, it’s a blast. Rogers sings of the refusal to swear fealty and the destruction of slavery, as he wails, “You are the anvil, you are the blade!” Later, the soloing catches fire, while the track comes to a satisfying, smoldering end.
“Traitor’s Gate” has a slow, quiet start, with solemn singing from Rogers before the track and the rage ignite. “I vomit a curse upon your name!” he bellows, as the band backs up with a hammering tempo and a righteous assault. A quick tempo change leads to a thrashy attack, with Rogers vowing, “Die, coward, die, as I take your life!” “Salt City” is a weird one, a track that perhaps would have been better off as a B side because it’s so out of place. The track is an homage to the band’s hometown, and it’s rife with cock rock swagger and Rogers singing of their stomping grounds is “right beneath the mountain throne.” It’s not that the song is bad. It’s fun in an Audrey Horne kind of manner. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the aesthetic. Maybe that was the point. “Blades in the Night” reignites the battle torches, as the song shows its muscles, with the warning of, “In the cover of night, beware.” The track is faster than a lot of what’s on here, and the back end even contains a damn cool soloing section that is infused with folk melody. The closing title cut is an ideal end, the final stamp on this record that swells with chaos handed down over the ages. The band chugs hard, with the leads stoking the fires, and later the guitars twisting classic metal ferocity. That fires up the final moments, as the swelling vocals and trudging pace bring this to a bloody end.
Visigoth’s gift for huge melodies and fantastical imagery is the continuation of some of metal’s finest, longest-lasting tenets, and that’s what makes “Conqueror’s Oath” such a fun listen. You don’t have to worry about being weighed down with heavy shit (well, other than the music), and you can get lost in the middle of their world. We need bands such as Visigoth to remain vital and relevant, and there’s no doubting these guys will remain a force for years.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/visigothofficial
To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords
For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/