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Push Ever On, Raise Your Sword, Become The Bane Of The Abyss - 83%

CHAIRTHROWER, May 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Metal Blade Records

"...It is my solemn charge to guard the flame
Into aphotic depths I ride to meet my fate..."

So it is; in this verily exalted - not exiled - case, I speak of Salt Lake City, Utah's Visigoth and its terrifically compact, as well as ever-throttling, dual track(ed) digital/7" vinyl release (under Metal Blade Records), comprised of the briefer "Fireseeker" and slightly longer, not to mention considerably more epic, "Abysswalker".

Although justice has been duly served, here at MA, in its prophetically seizing regard, cannot help but share celebrated opinion the former, A Side ditty sounds truly cut from the same fluently rampant n' raw, albeit intensely melodious, cloth as Arch Enemy's Burning Bridges - in particular, the alchemically necrotic British wiz'ards' magnificent triptych comprised, to my ears, of "Pilgrim", "Silverwing" and, perhaps, a tad bit of "Angelclaw".

Right off the bat, the crystal clear and super sharp, angularly riffed guitar parts come flying outta the gate like bats outta Hell, specifically in the form of richly harmonious twin axe solos, juxtaposed over galloping American power metal rhythms buoyed by a larger-than-life battery, of which, dare exclaimeth, the bass is fully, if not gallantly, heard. The drums show powerful restraint, too, in allowing both vocalist and guitars the room and impetus to drive things forward...And do they ever, on both!

The starker, as well as much faster, direct and battle-some "Abysswalker" puts more emphasis on atmosphere which depicts somewhat of a mountainous, wintry saga amidst far-flung nether Worlds still adhering to antiquated, Middle-Age era War etiquette and charisma. (Knightly jingoistic-ism is more like it!). Truth be told, this latter piece, for its relevant part, fits way better within Visigoth's inherent realm, found so enticing on both its 2015 full-length debut, The Revenant King, in addition to briefer and denser 2018 sophomore release, Conqueror's Oath. This notably pertains to Jake Rogers' frostily stentorian, viking affecting vocals, alongside overall metallic tinge to the song itself.

Plainly, Visigoth's Bells of Awakening EP is worth picking up, or even just sampling once, whether you're a dyed in the wool trad-meets-USPM rivet head or general garden-variety minstrel.

(Visibly, our wizened skeletor friend up yonder omitted heeding the call...)

The Fireseekers - 80%

Marcohateshipsters, June 28th, 2019

With the release of 2018’s Conqueror’s Oath, American metal stalwarts Visigoth were as white-hot as ever. Intending to keep that heat, they released a two track EP titled Bells of Awakening just last month. Everything you’ve come to know and love Visigoth for – the tremendous vocals, catchy riffs, and singalong choruses – is out in full force here. The band has stamped out their own style of traditional heavy metal and Bells of Awakening further solidifies that.

Relative to the extreme metal world, the traditional metal fandom is quite tiny with a relatively small number of bands having anywhere near the reach of their more extreme peers. However, Visigoth are an exception to that rule. Over the years, they’ve made their mark as a leader of a new generation of traditional metal artists, in fact, they might just be the most popular new band drawing influence from the US Power / Epic metal strains, styles that are near and dear to my heart. The reason for Visigoth’s relative success is simple – combining the riffy, but chorus driven nature of bands like Twisted Tower Dire with the doomy approach of Grand Magus, the songs are just damn catchy and accessible while still holding substance.

Visigoth’s first release was a demo in 2010 and while Vengeance was a solid demo, they didn’t really explode until the release of their debut album, The Revenant King, in 2015. This album was longer and doomier, with more of an emphasis on their epic metal influences than the album that would follow. Conqueror’s Oath on the other hand featured Visigoth taking a more straightforward, up-beat approach that further explored the band’s love of European style power metal. Bells of Awakening puts us somewhere in between the two styles with each of its tracks fitting comfortably into one of the sounds.

The EP opens up with “Fireseeker”, and while this is the shorter track of the two, its pacing is slower and more deliberate. The instrumentation in this song takes a step back and opens up to allow all star singer Jake Rogers to take the reins and carry the song with soaring vocals and catchy choruses. It’s a safe formula for Visigoth that’s never a bad listen, but doesn’t really push the band’s musical boundaries. The next track, “Abysswalker”, picks up the pace a bit and the instrumentation is more central to the song. There are still plenty of vocal driven moments for Jake to shine, but the riffs are stronger and overall it’s a better song. What really ties it all together is perhaps the best production Visigoth has had to date. My biggest criticism of Visigoth has historically been that the production is too polished and clean. Bells of Awakening is a bit rougher than what we got with the last two full lengths and while it’s still a bit too clean for my tastes, the change is welcome in my book.

Overall, Bells of Awakening doesn’t deviate too far from the standard Visigoth sound that we’ve come to know and love, but it’s a release that fans of the band are bound to enjoy. The art is gorgeous, the production is some of Visigoth’s best so far, and the songs are fun as hell. It’s a solid release that inspires further confidence in the band and bodes well for Visigoth’s future.

Release rating: 80/100

Favorite track: Abysswalker


pretty good man - 83%

caspian, May 27th, 2019

Didn't like this too much on the first few listens but I'm glad I gave it a few more goes. The last Visigoth full length was about as interesting as watching grass grow and had even less riffs, and while a 10 minute EP/snippet perhaps doesn't rectify that it's a very promising sign for their next full length.

A nice balance between the first album's drawn out epicness and the attempted anthemic/straight forward stuff off Conqueror's Oath. For a two song EP there's a big ol' amount of real good riffs, little dual guitar parts squeezed in everywhere; they've jammed a lot of ideas into two songs but kept things real tight. Less bombastic perhaps than their normal stuff, but I'm very fine with that, it's hardly restrained, it just seems more focused on a nice narrative flow in the songs as opposed to hitting you over the head with the biggest chorus possible. Not to say these guys were ever completely derivative or anything but it really feels like they're starting to get their own sound really well established, which is cool; USPM + a bit of glam + a bit of manowar + a tendency to play as many thirds as possible instead of power chords. Sign me up!

Combined with the nicely rough and raw production and it's a really enjoyable little EP. Highly worth seeking out.

Abyss Walkers - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, May 24th, 2019

Visigoth is hotter than a kindled bonfire. Visigoth roared with "The Revenant King" and "Conqueror's Oath" as though from the soul of a lord, records of simplistic heavy metal full of dimension and depth. "Bells of Awakening" is more of the same, but rest assured Visigoth is far from falling deep into the depths. These two songs are stellar cuts of Visigoth doing what Visigoth was born to do; the EP's small running time cannot stop the ceaseless discharge of brazen heavy metal. "Fireseeker" and "Abysswalker" cater to a straightforward, almost minimalist heavy metal structure conjuring reflections of Omen, Dio, and Manilla Road, among others. The songs are structured similarly and revolve on choruses backed up by the fire of passion. "Fireseeker" and "Abysswalker" stick to structures and ideas utilized by several groups, yet Visigoth's energy slices through as though swung like a greatsword. Each and every bridge and part boils with a firestorm of hunger, making these tracks magnetizing staples that are among the best the band has created. "Abysswalker," especially, imbues this style with a magic hitherto unseen.

I don't remember anything the band has done thus far affecting me this much. The riffs are not the most creative guitar sequences in the metal realm, straightforward and simple as they are, but Visigoth is the prime mover when it comes to writing massive anthems. The choruses sound glorious. Basic songwriting twists and turns are molded into bombastic, vigorous chaos orbs of heavy metal glory. Visigoth is not a band of complex rhythms or riffs from an ancient well buried by time or dust, but they do cast the power within, boasting energy that protrudes as though iron flesh. Visigoth is a fantastic band, and their march mimics that of an unstoppable iron golem.

"Bells of Awakening" sticks to the same simplistic formula Visigoth has carved in stone and reinforces it to its capacity. Visigoth has solidified itself as a demon of song, carrying the flame in the face of the dark that could snub it out at any moment. "Bells of Awakening" is gushing with quality, and it presents an exciting preview of the painted world to come.

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