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I've been removed from the metal scene for well over a decade and I have to admit, it's fascinating to look back at some of the albums from ages past. After being removed from metal heads, metal stores, metal concerts, and metal internet forums for years, it feels as if the dust has settled. The mystique and hype are gone. The social obligation to give certain bands their dues, or at least acknowledge their exalted status, is gone. Things that were once enshrouded in hype can now be seen objectively for what they are – be it good or bad. This is what makes going back and listening to albums like War Cult Supremacy so amusing.
Around the early 00s, Conqueror entered the scene as a part of a short-lived sub-genre of black metal known as war metal. Similar as to how the early Scandinavian black metal bands took the themes of bands like Venom to a more serious level, war metal attempted to do the same to the black metal of its own era. It fashioned itself as some sort of higher tier of black metal. An elite among the elite. People who were on the internet forums at that time will recall the absurd amount of praise that was lavished onto these bands. But when the smoke has cleared, does the music hold up on its self-appointed pedestal? War Cult Supremacy was highly praised. Does at least this one album stand the test of time? No. Not by a long shot.
The first thing that's apparent when listening to this album is that it's essentially noise. And no, I don't mean this in the way that person unaccustomed to metal might perceive something like Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk as a wall of noise. This is literal noise. The opening track “Infinite Majesty” begins with an intro of toms and cymbals pounding a slow drum beat alongside a simple power chord that alternates up and down a half step. After a few bars of this the track kicks up to a full speed blast beat accompanied by a quiet, down-tuned guitar part. I say “accompanied by” because this album is primarily drums – and uninteresting drums at that. It sounds as if the only instrument used in addition to drums is a lone guitar, and it's so low in the mix that the riffs are almost inaudible. I do wonder if this was a conscious decision on the part of the band to disguise just how poor the songwriting actually is. If you listen intently enough to hone in on the guitar riffs, you'll notice that they're just simple down-tuned power chords moving up and down by half steps. This is absolutely uninspired trash. There's no point in describing the tracks any further. Nearly every point in this album is indistinguishable from any other random point.
When all is said and done, this album serves as a sort of monument to just how far a band can go when the stars of hype are properly aligned. There's nothing of any musical value or artistic merit here. And the problem isn't that this is monotonous, poorly played, or just sub-bar black metal. It's that it barely even qualifies as music. It doesn't matter how many adjectives you toss at it: hateful, brutal, unrelenting, raw, primitive - this is little more than a wall of blast beats, drum fills, and uninteresting snarls. I wonder if there aren't at least a few black metal fans out there who look back and feel a little red-faced over praising garbage like War Cult Supremacy.
After the initial explosion of black metal in the mid nineties, a number of silly fads arose in its wake. Among these was the much despised, symphonic Count Chocula music defined by Cradle of Filth, the pretentious avant garde experimental acts, and eventually the closet indie rock of today. In reaction to these and other trends, a number of bands arose, determined to make music that was MORE primitive, MORE hateful, and MORE extreme (too extreme?) than ever before, so that black metal would remain a true, underground lair of evil that no one's mom would ever enjoy. Groups like Black Witchery, Thornspawn, and Conqueror brought true diabolical conviction that was matched only by their complete lack of musicality. Conqueror's only full length album is often regarded as a landmark release for diabolical hateful war black metal, or whatever they called it. They definitely had spirit; unfortunately, they forgot that at the end of the day it's also music, which is sadly neglected on this album.
Probably your first reflexive thought when seeing this album panned is that the listener just isn't a fan of this type of music. So let me first say that I do like raw, savage black and death metal and have for a long time. I just don't think that being "warlike" or "barbaric" absolves a band from writing good songs. It's possible to create compelling music with simple ingredients and punishing musical performance, this just doesn't do it. While artists like Ildjarn, Angelcorpse and Beherit succeed with minimal music by focusing on the art beneath the noise, Conqueror focus on the surface level aesthetic of brutality to the exclusion of all else. Conqueror fail to create any sort of artistic abstraction of war's essence, just a dull roar of violence. They apparently forgot that there's a good reason armies throughout history have relied on forcible conscription - unrelenting war is just not a very good experience.
Every song is pretty much the same; 4-6 minutes of blasting accompanied by an extremely basic power chord riff, topped off with strained shrieking that is somewhat drowned in the mix. In fact, everything except the snare drum is somewhat drowned behind a wall of guitar feedback that renders most of the actual songs indistinguishable. I'm sure some people would consider the roaring feedback to be "brutal" , and maybe it is, in the same way that going to a show and spending the whole night with your ear against the speakers would be "brutal". When one can make out the riffs, it's easy to tell why the band chose to bury them under so much white noise - they're disappointingly juvenile "sinister" melodies, mostly in very short descending chromatic arrangements.
I wish I could write more about the music, but that's pretty much the whole story. It basically sounds like Angelcorpse stripped of all songwriting or performative ability. Of course, the band would probably argue that they weren't going for some technical wankfest, and were simply trying to express their raw evil hatred in the most direct way possible. Even in the realm of emotional expression, this album fails. There is no creativity in their means of expression, and their music does nothing but remind you that they are evil and full of hate, over and over again. OK, great, now what? Why are you hateful? What caused it? What would relieve it? What are you going to do about it?
In conclusion, I give them 5% just for being able to tell their own songs apart in the recording studio.
I have fond memories of this record.
I still get the same feeling now when I put the record on the turntable as I did the first time I gave it a listen. The album is unrelenting and presents an audio attack from the beginning: Infinite Majesty begins with a very dark, evil sounding downtuned guitar that introduces the album in a war-like manner, with foreboding riffage and appropriate drumming. Almost immediately, all distinguishable notes are lost as ferocious drums drown out all but a vague fuzz of guitar noise. James Read shrieks demented and hallowed vocals with a sound that reveals true anger in his voice, very rarely alternating in style. There are a couple of nice effects throughout, such as a flanger/chorus effect on the voice that gives it a creepy robotic feel, and a very brief guitar solo.
The rest of the album is pretty much like this: predominantly drum-based songs with chaotic guitar noise enshrouding the carnage. Bass is virtually non-existent, though is not needed. Read's vocals enter the songs immediately, and don't cease til the instrumentation does. A very pleasant addition to the album is frequent guitar solos, which are audible above the drumming and showcase good skill. The covers are also relatively true to the originals, with the guitars being slightly more distinguishable and audible in terms of what they're actually playing. The only deviation is that the clean guitar intro to "Christ's Death" is missing, though I didn't expect it to be included. As regards production, this is really quite grim - not in the same vein as Darkthrone, but more akin to Blasphemy, "The Return......" by Bathory and other such 'War-Death-Black' Metal bands. The guitars are distorted to hell, while the drums are very dry (no reverb present).
It's quite hard to explain how violent and structure-lacking this LP is. However, in this case such attributes are not negatives. Conqueror clearly understood what style they were intending to take and stuck to it rigidly. Within the songs here is encaptured real anger and hatred, and as music is really only a vehicle to portray emotion, I can do no less than give the album the rating it deserves.
Clattering, rampaging war metal at full tilt, it's easy to see why Conqueror and it's cousin Revenge aren't the easiest bands to love. Some spin the stuff and are revolted by the breakneck speed, over the top distortion and apparent lack of structure and cohesion. These are valid issues. But for me, this debut and only full album by Conqueror is an evolutionary metal step that was inevitable. Ever since Blasphemy, Beherit and Bestial Warlust endeavored to throw death and black metal back to their primordial roots, more and more bands have tried to recapture the chaotic fury those bands laid down. Conqueror goes a long way towards achieving that and taking the ferocity a step farther, closer to total structure breakdown in the face of extremity.
But then there's the whole lyrical issue too. As you'd expect, the vocals are indecipherable, making most death metal singing sound like lullabys. But the Social Darwinism inherent here (and even more so with Revenge) is worrying. There's no overt racism communicated, and the philosophy seems to be more about the supremacy of the self against a weak/banal society. In which case, the ideas can be empowering and noble. But when this stuff is mixed w/WWII style graphics, and the titles tend more towards blood-honor-genocide ideals, one has to scratch one's head.
But as it stands, this is a musical step beyond all set ideals of brutality in metal. Only the total dissolving of structure into total noise could be more "extreme," but only if you're willing to do without things such as choruses, verses, and indentifiable riffs. If you are, good luck to you, but for me Conqueroir posed an invigorating clamor just this side of sonic anarchy.
I was first introduced to Conqueror a few months ago when my step brother was first getting into war metal. He described the genre as the most brutal music he had ever heard and immediately recommended a few bands to me, among them, Conqueror. I eagerly put them on expecting great things…and I was horribly disappointed. All I heard was noise. Well, that’s not quite right. All I heard were blast beats - lots of them. After a single listen I deleted the album from my collection, along with five or six war metal albums, most of which I hadn’t even given a cursory listen to.
Well, some time has passed since then and during that time I got Blasphemy’s Fallen Angel of Doom. That album sucked me into the war metal genre and made me love its seemingly incomprehensible brutality and limitless aggression. I reacquired War Cult Supremacy and listened to it. Once again, I was disappointed. This time, however, I refused to be put off. The next day, I listened to it again. That’s when this album clicked for me. I finally managed to decipher the noise, and I was fucking thrilled that I hadn’t tossed the album aside yet again.
The guitars on this album are nearly inaudible. Until you’ve heard the album three or four times you won’t even be able to pick them out, save a few breaks where the drums aren’t playing, and of course, their solos. The riffs are VERY fast and are usually low. The band is tuned to B (whether due to seven stringed guitars or simple detuning, I don’t know) and the majority of riffs take place on the B string. Several chunkier, breakdown esque, riffs can be found, although, they’re still about as fast as the average band’s fastest moments. The solos are incredibly quick – even speedier than the riffs – bursts of high as hell and seemingly random notes. If the backing music was something like thrash or even death metal, it would be horrible, yet, with this album it works perfectly. Still, what good are riffs if you can’t hear them? Quite a few of the riffs on this album come off as blast beats with some static behind them. Surely, that can’t be good!?
With almost any band making the drums twice as loud as the guitars would lead to disaster. Then again, most bands don’t have J. Read as a drummer. The blasting on this album isn’t the fastest I’ve ever heard (although it is up there), nor is it the tightest or the most precise…not even close, rather, the drumming here is the most passionate and aggressive performance I’ve ever heard. Unlike in a lot of bands where blasting is simply part of the backdrop, here you can truly feel the hatred radiating through every smash of the snare and every crash of the cymbals. This guy hates you, and he wants you to die. Still, when it’s the loudest portion of the music, non stop blasting is bound to get old after forty minutes. Luckily, Conqueror realizes this. The blasting is extremely varied and diverse. Different cymbals are added then dropped and numerous different rhythms are used. In addition countless tom rolls blitz across the music to add variety. They come seemingly without warning and frequently in the middle of a riff, throwing off every ounce of predictability, when it comes to what the drums will do next. Several non blast beats are used throughout the album (although they’re definitely in the minority), but the one thing they all have in common, is that they’re fast as hell.
The vocals here are somewhat varied. They alternate between growls and some form of a shriek. Sometimes the shrieks sound more like high gurgles and there is also an instance where the vocalist is doing what almost sounds like pitch shifted…talking? The lyrics are indecipherable, but they don't sound like anything too special anyway. The bass is inaudible, for the most part.
The songs on this album all follow a very similar pattern. While they each do have differences, you probably won’t be able to pick them apart until you’ve listened to the album quite a few times. The songwriting is brutal to a ridiculous degree, but, unlike for a ton of bands who make brutality their one and only goal, it actually works here. The majority of the music is comprised of blasting fast as hell riffs, but the band definitely knows how to occasionally mix it up. The loud as fuck drums make it far more brutal than it would have been otherwise and add a healthy dose of chaos, but, at the same time, I think that the effect could’ve been maintained if they were a BIT quieter.
The songs are generally fairly short. The longest song on the album, Domitor Invictus also happens to be the most varied, and, consequently, the best. The album on the whole is a bit overlong, in my opinion. War metal works best in really short bursts and this album can get a bit overdone by the end, then again, the final tracks are some of the strongest so that makes up for it. Still, I think ten minutes could have been shaved off.
This is simply one of the most brutal CDs that I’ve ever heard. It’s also some of the hands down most extreme music to ever grace (or, should that be violate?) my ears. It’s simplistic, yet it works to an undeniable degree. People like to throw around terms like ‘brutal’ and ‘chaotic’, but until you’ve heard this album, I don’t really think that you have the right to use them. This band is a perfect example or extremity pushed to its zenith. When it comes to extremity there is no even progression. Once you get to a point, bands simply become too extreme. That point is where a ton of brutal death metal and black metal bands lie. Quite a few of them are awful because they simply tried too hard to be brutal and nothing else. Their music is too far along the path to noise. Conqueror is what happens when you leap down that path while screaming wildly and land a mile or so past the boundaries of what people normally consider crap. Hell, on your first few listens this album literally sounds like noise and nothing more. Conqueror should, by all rights, be awful. After all, they’re simply a twice as extreme version of countless bands who are too extreme to be entertaining. Yet, Conqueror isn’t noise. The thing that those bands missed is that extremity is a do or don’t thing. Once you get to a point, you have to make a choice. Are you going to go back and make standard music? Or, are you going to leap over the barrier, cackling crazily as you do? Most bands sit on the fence, and as such, they’re shit. Their music is too noisy to be truly considered music, yet it’s not extreme enough to truly capture the feeling of pure rage that the band members felt. Conqueror is without a doubt the most extreme band in the metal scene, today.
Conqueror’s greatest strength – and their greatest flaw – comes from this extremity. On one hand, they smashed down every wall of what we once considered music to be and surged on still further ahead. This makes their music is exhilarating and thrilling, but, at the same time, while it makes their music almost mandatory to be appreciated, it makes it hard to truly love. If you’re not in the right mood for it, than this album is simply too extreme. Well, that’s not quite right. This album is ALWAYS too extreme. The question is, are you in the right mood to listen to chaos put into musical – or, perhaps, sonic – form?
Still, while it’s tough to listen to on a regular basis this album is absolutely essential in the collections of any metal fan that likes raw and chaotic music. Despite its flaws (or, perhaps, because of them) this album is highly recommended.
Conqueror enjoy a certain “kvlt” status throughout the international underground conspiracy with the evil forces of Satan commonly known as the international black metal scene. Shitty intros and general ignorance aside, “War Cult Supremacy” is probably Conqueror’s most fierce onslaught against Christianity and it positively – if the word can be applied to a band of this genre – reeks devastation throughout little more than 46 minutes. In fact, there is so much devastation here that they forgot to record actual songs and, instead, preferred to use a constant blast beat throughout the album, spicing it up here and there with slight rhythm changes and one or two enjoyable riffs.
As exaggerated as it may seem – and, in fact, be – Conqueror fail to transform the raw aggression of the band’s members (especially the drummer) into an enjoyable, or at least comprehensible, sonic outlet. It’s not that they can’t play, or that they can’t write decent-to-good “war black metal” riffs but they fail to transform that into real, understandable, meaningful songs. In fact, most of them seem to start off where the previous one ended and simply pick up the pace, as well as the lyrical theme, not to mention the dissonant pattern built by the guitars.
It’s not all bad, though. The ultimately decent and even enjoyable “Chaos Dominion”, the beginning of “The Curse”, the title track and the surprising “hidden track” provide a glimpse of what Conqueror could be like if they somehow redefined their writing process in order to build consistent songs without losing their primal relentlessness. Strange as it may seem, or not, these songs present a wider variety of tempos (other than “blast, blast, blast”) and actually give the guitars and bass (which practically doesn’t exist, by the way) more room to develop. This is also due to the lousy production, which consists almost exclusively of drums, leaving the guitars too far behind and, therefore, imperceptible and unclear.
Probably some of you will still think this record to be a priceless gem but as far as I’m concerned (and I like black metal as much as the next guy – a lot) this is just not good. And it’s not just bad because of the song writing or the production. A mixture of both as well as many other factors make this a very uninteresting disc, whether you’re a regular metal enthusiast or a mere onlooker.
Originally written for www.ventrilocution.net
First of all, I don't think this SOUNDS like Blasphmey or Sarcofago. (They are fast as fuck, like Blasphemy, but then again Suffocation and Marduk are really fast too...) Read's drumming does have a D.D. Crazy feel, but musically, if I must compare them to anyone, think Sadistik Exekution meets “The Oath of Black Blood” on a LOT of coke imported from South America.
Musically, Conqueror are/were PIONEERS in the vicinity of extreme metal. They set up the bar of extremity soooo high, I doubt any shaved-head "nihilistic" band from any country will be able to top these Canadians for at least the next 15 years. And, what makes this album (even more) appreciated is the fact that to a fan of Arch Enemy or Children of Bodom it won’t even sound like music… it’s literally audial war, devoid of any signs of life, structure or conventionality. BLOODY ORIGINAL. (Only in this regard they are similar to Blasphemy and Sarcofago, as these bands’ debuts were also revolutionary.)
Ryan Forster’s approach to the guitar is unlike anything I’ve heard before on a metal release, giving new denotation to the words “toxic” and “primitive”. But it is Mr. James Read who steals the show, drumming the living shit out of anything and everyone in site, and a voice so unruly that it makes Burzum sound like Abba.
...And then EVERYONE and their uncle turned in to Conqueror fans. Neo-nazis, newbies, WAR-metallers... When the band was active very few people actually gave a crap about them, but then Pete "The Philosopher" Helmkamp was seen wearing their shirt on that CD, and slowly the Conqueror mania caught on, the name-dropping got out of control and eventually the metal world witnessed the worst attempt at War Metal by a novelty duo called Cobalt.
War Cult Supremacy, in my opinion, is the most violent album ever to be recorded by a metal band. Please buy this before you kill yourself.
Album: Warcult Supremacy
Label: Evil Omen
Release Year: 2000
This is the debut full-length from Conqueror, a Canadian band whose previous release was a split CD ("Hellstorms of Evil Vengeance") with Americans Black Witchery. Conqueror play grinding Black Metal in the Blasphemy vein.
I've been eagerly awaiting this CD (as well as Black Witchery's debut) for a while now, due to the excellence of the aforementioned split release. Now that it's had time to sink in, I must give highest accolades to this band. Conqueror deliver relentless extremity here, completely destroying my every expectation.
The overall impression is one of speed, since the majority of the album is spent in blast beats. This is a style that can get old fast if done badly, but this disc held my attention for the entire album. The songwriting is really quite good, especially the slower breaks - they show an impeccable sense of timing, and lend a lot of variety to the songs.
As for the musical performance itself, the vocals are a rather ordinary Black Metal snarl, but fit the music well. The real standout here are the drums... the performance is inhuman! The drums have also been moved to the front in the production mix, a genius idea that really heightens the brutal nature of Conqueror's attack. I must also mention the band's use of occasional voice and sound effects, as these were quite excellent. The only negative point I can find about the album is the sparse packaging... I would really have liked to see the lyrics.
This album is a most impressive first release for this band. I'll look forward to their future work. For fans of Blasphemy, Sacramentary Abolishment, Beherit, or the split with Black Witchery, this release is most highly recommended.
Standout tracks: "Hammer of Antichrist", "War Cult Supremacy", "Command for Triumph"
Review by Vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net