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The Cosmic Fire Burns Silver And Cold - 92%

CHAIRTHROWER, February 16th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Metal Blade Records

Hailing from, of all places, Salt Lake City, Utah, is Visigoth, a stunning traditional/power dual guitar quintet which, having already raised the bar with its comprehensively rocking and richly phrased 2015 full-length debut, The Revenant King, has proceeded to further establish itself as a kingly genre purveyor with an as-consummate sophomore, Conqueror’s Oath, released last week under Metal Blade Records and comprised of eight valorous and methodically construed battle hymns featuring top-notch, melodically piercing and metallic musicianship punctuated by a compellingly concise baritone front man who varies between soaring verses, poignantly uplifting refrains and evocative, regal croons – like he so convincingly does on the cleanly progressive inceptions of “Hammerforge” and “Traitor’s Gate” (no longer simply a one-off NWOBHM treasure but rather, an archaically gripping tale of betrayal) - which invariably make one feel like they’re readying to plunge into bloody valedictorian battles on a Germanic war field with both head and sword held high!

For one thing, the production is masterful through and through, from the crisply resonating twin guitars of Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana, who fitfully split lead duties – notably on the jig some “Blades in the Night” following an unctuous and climatic bridge – as well as crystalline harmonies backed by rumbling, oft triplet based riffs, such as at the beginning of opener “Steel and Silver”, to the stoutly pummeling and propulsive rhythm section of Matt Brotherton on bass and Mikey Treseder on drums. Although I can’t say the same for The Revenant King, which features longer track lengths and a more extensive development in general, the shimmering guitar tones and tacit drum fills, as well as overall battle-some vibe of Conqueror’s Oath bring to mind 3 Inches of Blood’s fourth (and next-to-last) full-length, Here Waits Thy Doom, from 2009, albeit in a much tighter, focused and condensed fashion. (In particular, the fluid and watery phrasing on the lead break to “Steel and Silver” uncannily reminds me of the Canadians’ “Rock In Hell” from said album). One could also venture Visigoth sort of sounds like a much tidier and accessible albeit paralleling version of France’s Hurlement, whose lyrical themes predominantly touch on the Napoleonic Wars.

Jake Palmer, for his part, is the monumental driving force behind each and every track as his powerfully rendered vocal lines serve as either a forward thrust or soothing compliment, varying with the tempo at hand. A great example is his stellar performance on likely my preferred track, “Warrior Queen”, which (along with Corsair’s “Warrior Woman”!) would surely make Bodicea proud. Not only is this instantly gratifying and ripping track as epic as it gets thanks to its doubly layered and hurtling guitar riff as well as wickedly poised and drawn-out power chords, but Palmer’s heartfelt and raw delivery duly enhances its appeal. While I’m unquestionably drawn by its most commendable chorus, it’s the mesmerizing manner in which Palmer’s verses cap and compliment the guitars that has me return again and again. The stand-out, fist-pumping backing vocals rounding them off are also further cause for all-out ravishing glee. What’s more, the scintillating solo section gives way to a subdued and mournful flute laden interlude which soon segues into a crushing and hard-driven return to form as Palmer and company illustriously recite: “Hail the coming of the conqueror/Hail the forging of the warrior/She stands alone!”

As a friend (whose eventual newfound love of heavy metal largely stems from The Revenant King!) pointed out – seeing as I’m extensively insouciant when it comes to visual media – the lyrics to “Outlive Them All” undoubtedly refer to The Highlander series whilst the funky opening clean guitar lick introducing “Salt City”, an irreproachably loose and hot rocking moment of levity amidst the more solemn material, evokes David Lee Roth era Van Halen, notably “Ice Cream Man” (haha!). While much more rock-ish, this playful and equally strong composition as well as jocose ode to the band’s unsuspecting origins is cut from the same cloth as its brethren so make sure to keep your ears peeled for it. Worth noting, the languidly drawn-out and harmony rich, sinuously waltzing titular closer is also worth its "salt".

As inferred, there is no filler besmirching Conqueror’s Oath; although I’m spoiled by the personal highlights outlined above, rest assured the album as a whole is a most enriching experience, much like another “Teutonic” act I’ve recently come across, Germany’s Rebellion and its latest installment, A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’ King Lear. Here’s to hoping Visigoth keep its stick, er, sword on ice and follows-up with an equally deft third release.

Highlights:

"Steel and Silver"
"Warrior Queen"
"Salt City"
"Blades in the Night"

Originally written for www.grande-rock.com

Conqueror's redeeming oath - 78%

Silicon Messiah, February 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Metal Blade Records

Visigoth is a named often dropped in regards to what is colloquially known as the Traditional Metal Revival, or the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal. Those who adhere to this movement - if it can so be called - have no intention of breaking new ground in terms of style or sound, but rather to conjure the greats of the eighties, and playing the same style, not seldom strictly by the book. Oftentimes it has resulted in a band much identical in sound to those who inspired them - and they are lauded for it. All this in the pursuit of striving ever backwards in a genre where the greats of old are still very much alive, kicking and releasing great music.

And despite that obviously bleak introduction, Visigoth showed some promise on albeit rather dull The Revenant King, released three years ago. But here’s the twist. As a follow up, sophomore full length Conqueror’s Oath manages to deliver where the debut could not.

The Revenant King did sport a few growers in the track list, as well as some slick guitar work and an admittedly dense and immersive atmosphere. Still, the album did not manage to stick with me, and it seems at first glance that Conqueror’s Oath might prove me wrong about Visigoth. Sure enough, the album does kick off on the right note with 'Steel And Silver', a pounding march hymn complete with blistering lead guitar work straight out of the gate.

Most of the material on here has been scaled down from the eight to ten minute opuses found on the debut. This downsizing works in its favor as the music becomes more accessible and airy. It might be argued that the music has been simplified, but that isn’t really the case. Visigoth sound more focused as they deliver an album steeped in fun and groovy rhythms hearkening back to the glory days of old in a way that sounds genuinely inspired, and not like copy-paste.

Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana’s driving rhythms and sometimes noodling and always tingly lead guitars drive the music ever onward with interesting hooks and driven focus. Be it the fleshy riff work in opener 'Steel And Silver', the epic melodies of 'Hammerforged' or the swift rollicking rock 'n' roll of 'Salt City' that hearkens back to the likes of Kiss, the guitars take massive precedence, though always leaving enough room for a massive bass sound from Matthew Brown Brotheron. Vocalist Jake Rogers bellows with a big, impressive voice, ready for battle and truly makes up all the difference in what makes this sophomore effort a genuinely good album, as compared to the lackluster debut.

Conqueror’s Oath is a fun and invigorating album, and thanks to the lyrical content still revolving around epic battles and the forging of steel rather than parties and booze, it keeps its freshness about it, landing along the same place as Eternal Armor’s debut album The Armor Of Ire (2016), and actually manages to be a thrill seeking exploration of metal rather than an overlong plodding of the same old-same old.

Standout tracks: Steel And Silver, Traitor’s Gate, Salt City

Conqueror's Oath - 65%

Dover, February 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Metal Blade Records

Many fans knew what to expect with a second Visigoth album — churning riffs, soulful baritone vocals and impressive lead guitars. Conqueror's Oath delivers on that front. There are no real surprises here. And for now, that's okay.

Conqueror's Oath is nearly twenty minutes shorter than its predecessor, but given the familiarity of its material this is not a bad thing. As mentioned, the similarity between the Salt Lake City band's two full-length releases is not yet an issue. However, Visigoth now faces the danger of falling into a mire like such bands as Grave Digger and Slayer. They run the risk of releasing essentially the same album over and over again. Visigoth's new album is not bad, but it does introduce two worrisome elements: Creative stagnation and Jake Rogers' limitations as a vocalist.

The album kicks off to a wonderful start. "Steel and Silver" sets the tone remarkably with a very catchy chorus and exciting lead guitars. "Warrior Queen" and "Outlive Them All" both offer new elements, a flute solo and an Iron Maiden-like twin guitar approach, respectively. From this point forward though, the riffs begin to seem samey and lose their luster.

Songs like "Hammerforged" and "Blades in the Night" are forgettable. "Salt City" introduces a wholly new sound to the album, a rock & roll/metal fusion that reminds one of KISS.

Sandwiched amid these middle-of-the-road songs is "Traitor's Gate," a song that absolutely triumphs and sticks out as one of the album's definite winners. The bridge section in the song's second half rips the listener out of the groove with a wonderful riff that is almost reminiscent of Amon Amarth.

In the album's second half, the latter of the two aforementioned issues becomes apparent — Jake Rogers' limitations as a vocalist. His performance in band's last album, 2015's The Revenant King, showcased a unique tone with an aura of confidence and attitude. But in Conqueror's Oath it feels almost as if we are hearing a tame Jake Rogers. I hesitate to say he's phoning it in, but his approach to every song sounds the same. There is such little variation in Jake's tone and range that by track 5 nothing pops out anymore.

Luckily the album's closer, the title track, starts out right with the rhythm section and guitars interacting in classic Manowar fashion. Jake's vocals work here, crooning soulfully about regret and determination. This spirit of this song makes it a perfect closer.

Conqueror's Oath delivers what the fans want and injects enough new elements to prevent it from feeling like a victory lap from the previous album. But some key issues, however small at this point, threaten to negatively impact the next release if not addressed. Conqueror's Oath has enough killer to make it worth the purchase, but despite the relatively short length, getting through the whole thing in one sitting might be too much to ask.

An epic followup to an epic debut! - 92%

A11HAV3FA113N, February 9th, 2018

I had very high expectations for Visigoth's followup to "The Revenant King". Luckily, I can say that those expectations were met! Visigoth manages to bring a fun and possibly better (albeit shorter) album! The album starts with Steel and Silver, and you are immediately hooked! Every song on the album has great melodies, hooks, lyrics, and compositions! Every member performs their part exceptionally well!

One thing I recognized on Conqueror's Oath, is that there is more emphasis on lead guitar work compared to it's predecessor, and it is a change I welcome with open arms. There are plenty of Iron Maiden-esque harmonies throughout the album, but at no point do they feel forced, and they flow exceptionally well throughout the album! The production is also vastly superior in my opinion compared to The Revenant King! It feels like it carries more weight in a good way, and not to the point of being over-polished and compressed to death.

Like I said earlier, the album is noticeably shorter (almost 20 minutes shorter); as well as the songs, with only 3 of them surpassing 6 minutes. Deciding to make the album shorter works in it's favor as there are no filler tracks, the songs don't feel too long, and it doesn't overstay it's welcome.

Overall, Conqueror's Oath is an extremely fun album to listen to and is one of the best albums I have heard this year so far!

Highlights include:

Steel and Silver
Hammerforged
Traitor's Gate

Like a Wolf in the Night - 98%

Twisted_Psychology, February 9th, 2018

When listening to Visigoth’s follow-up to 2015’s The Revenant King, the comparably shorter length is more than likely the first thing you’ll notice. Conqueror’s Oath is about twenty minutes shorter than its predecessor and there are only three songs that go above the six minute mark, leaving behind a slew of three to five minute rockers. This raises concerns of a rushed or watered down effort, but the reality is that Visigoth has never been this focused. In fact, I may not be hesitating when I refer to Conqueror’s Oath as one of the greatest traditional metal albums of all time.

The Revenant King may be a thrilling ride for metal fans, but Conqueror’s Oath is a straight up fun album. A turn to shorter songs results in an emphasis on driving tempos, energetic musicianship, and catchy choruses. The band didn’t introduce any dumbed down hard rockisms or lowest common denominator party hard lyrics, but it is pretty amusing how a song like “Salt City” can make Mormon Central sound like the most exciting place on earth.

It also helps that the Utah classic metallers retain their established epic tone throughout the album. Much of that can be attributed to the powerful baritone bellow of vocalist Jake Rogers, whose layering on choruses like “Warrior Queen” and “Blades in the Night” makes them even more infectious. Fortunately, the rest of the band doesn’t slouch as the rhythms stay tight and the guitars continue providing the bright, wintery atmosphere that matches the band’s recurring art motifs.

But at the end of the day, the tight songwriting is key to this album’s success. A majority of the tracks may be faster paced and the steady battering runs the risk of select songs not leaving as deep an impression as they should. Fortunately each song on here has a distinct hook and the nonstop delivery ends up creating a strong momentum that leaves the listener as excitable as they may be out of breath.

For an album that seems uninterested in (and maybe even opposed to) outdoing its predecessor, Conqueror’s Oath succeeds in doing exactly that and then some. The balance of fun and focus is extraordinarily on point as the catchiness keeps things from being taken too seriously while the epic delivery keeps the songs sharp. I get concerns about possibly overhyping this album, but my enthusiasm remains the same with every listen. It’s an early contender for 2018’s album of the year, and I’ll be quite excited to see what could possibly top it.

Highlights:
“Steel and Silver”
“Outlive Them All”
“Salt City”
“Blades in the Night”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com