VISIGOTH are the leading light of a new wave of traditional heavy metal bands that shun the “retro” tag that has afflicted the genre for the past half-decade of its resurgence and instead write good, balls to the wall, heavy metal. Inspired by the genre’s 80’s heyday while still acknowledging that three and a half decades have led to some innovation in the genre the band’s first release The Revenant King was well received across the board. After a heavy touring schedule the band have finally returned with their follow up, featuring equally fitting artwork, entitled Conqueror’s Oath.
Album opener Steel and Silver wastes no time in setting out exactly what VISIGOTH are all about. Catchy riffs, soaring vocals and a sing along chorus while the lyrics tell the tale of Geralt of Rivia, of The Witcher fame. Anyone who wants more than this from their traditional metal is missing the entire point, a brilliant opener. Warrior Queen is a track where the focus is heavily on the guitars emerges with multiple solos as well a twin guitar harmonies throughout showing the skill on offer here.
Outlive Them All begins with an “ooh” worthy of Tom G.Warrior and ascending into an upbeat track about the Highlander with a chorus riff that’s impossibly catchy and will get stuck in your head. One of the shorter and faster tracks on the album it doesn’t outstay its welcome, showing the band have learnt the one lesson missing from their debut that sometimes less is more. Hammerforged is nice contrast to this as a pounding mid-paced number that while not as remarkable as its peers still features an impressive vocal display and solid riffs.
The highlight of the album is difficult to pick but Traitors Gate is certainly a contender. Opening slowly with frontman Jake Rogers setting the scene before a barrage of riffs accompanies a powerful vocal performance with some of the best lyrics on the album perfectly telling the story and containing all of the VISIGOTH staples. Salt City then goes on form this display of more British style to show the bands versatility with a pure American traditional metal anthem to the bands hometown. Slightly at odds with the rest of the album in both theme and style, it’s a good track all the same and promises that if the band can combine the two styles, they can be something truly legendary.
Blades In The Night is a return to the more vocal driven approach of the first few tracks of the album with plenty of opportunities for crowds to sing along and an almost aggressive pace to it forcing the song along. The title track and album closer The Conqueror’s Oath slows back down and instead focuses this energy into the emotion of the track, with a heartfelt vocal performance and building to a large climax at the end, the song is a perfect way to end a live set, and consequently to end the album.
So where does Conqueror’s Oath stand? VISIGOTH certainly haven’t dropped the ball here, which given the amount of attention and pressures this brings is no mean feat. They’ve eradicated the largest issue their debut had, it’s sheer length, and written some great tracks that will surely be crowd pleasers when played live. In fact the only true criticism that can be levelled against Conqueror’s Oath is that at points the band seem on the verge of turning something great into something legendary. But until that happens, mere greatness is more than enough to be getting on with.
Conqueror’s Oath is out now via Metal Blade Records.
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