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Back on its rightful throne - 95%

Andreas_Hansen, April 24th, 2018

The legitimate heirs of Omen and Manilla Road are back this year with a long-expected album, three years after the striking debut "The Revenant King" that instantly placed Visigoth as a major band of this "revival US heavy/power metal wave", alongside with Eternal Champion, probably their closest neighbors. Metal Blade Records streamed three songs before the releasing of the album, "Steel and Silver", "Warrior Queen" and "Outlive them All". It is while listening to this last track that I knew that the new album would be a work of art, even better than their good debut.

And obviously, this album is a memorable masterpiece.

This album is an improved copy of their previous disc "The Revenant King". The first striking difference is that it lasts twenty minutes less, like if the band purified all the elements that made the first album quite boring by the end, only keeping the strong and melodic core of what made their reputation. It worked quite well since all the tracks are really interesting and have something to offer. And if we want to be nit-picky, we would say that the two last tracks may be less interesting and that the album would struggles after track 6... The second striking difference is the global mood of the album: while "The Revenant King" had strong US doom influences in most of the songs, like many other US heavy metal bands, "Conqueror's Oath" differs a bit from its cousins in the sense that it is more EU power-oriented, with more speed and more epic choruses.

The album starts with "Steel and Silver", which may not be the best of all the songs but which is the best choice as an opener. It has a very catchy atmosphere, from the very first guitar notes to the glorious and powerful chorus that acts as a message like "Take your sword and your shield back and let's fight once again on the battlefield!" all of that supported by a very heavy drumming typical of bands like Manowar. The only purpose of this song is not to take you far away with their unique atmosphere but to catch your ear to listen to the rest of the album... which works, actually.

Another good point that wasn't much present in their previous disc is that the songs are much more diversified. The atmosphere can radically change from one song to another, for instance, the calm "Traitor's Gate", which is one of the most beautiful songs with deep emotions in the vocals, carries on with the very dynamic "Salt City", much lighter, that sounds like a 90's hard rock tune in which the band praises their home city, whereas the previous song sounds more like something typical of their first album with a strong doom influence. Another example of a different sonority is in the song "Outlive Them All" and as a fan of this so-called "EU" power metal scene, this song is my favorite. This song differs in the sense it sounds much more like an energetic old Helloween tune than some Manilla Road or Grand Magus stuff, without any doom influence. By the way, this song gives us one of the most beautiful moment, that always creates a shiver down my spine, in the very last seconds where the chorus is repeated with two vocal tracks that form beautiful minor chords.

Vocals are also incredible. Like, really. I rarely heard such a beautiful, clear voice than Jake Rodgers' one - proof that nature doesn't create us all equal - and the rest of the band knows that his powerful voice is a major advantage in their songs, as they don't hesitate to highlight it. For example, we have once again the song "Traitor's Gate" where the first part is almost only dedicated to vocals. There are few acoustic guitar notes here and there, but what clearly catches our ear is the beautiful melodies sung by Jake. And this last a long time! Vocals are at the heart of most of the songs, in the sense that it's the instrument that would stay the best in mind, like in "Outlive them All" or "Hammerforged", where the melodies are particularly catchy and epic. That's also why this band sounds so much like Eternal Champion! One of its biggest interest is its singer and his unique voice.

The album's mix is quite interesting as well. It doesn't differ at all from the precedent, so much that in my head when a bunch of music notes resonate I always wonder for a time whether it comes from "The Revenant King" or "Conqueror's Oath". Obviously, the voice is clearly highlighted - with such a great potential it would almost be criminal not to do so - but so is the bass that we hear quite well, mostly due to the fact that guitars often tend to play their high melodies in harmony, which let a great empty space for the bass to shine. The global mixing also sounds really like a traditional 80's heavy metal album, which makes the immersion in this period full of muscles and swords easier.

https://tunesofsteel.wordpress.com

Really quite disappointing - 47%

caspian, April 9th, 2018

The quickest way to tell that this is a giant backwards step is by listening to this, pretending it's the debut and then playing the Revenant King as a follow up album. You could make a pretty easy review on it- "Visigoth's first album, Conqueror's Oath, was a decent debut that had some good songs but was plagued by a general sameness and a tendency towards bombastic cheesiness. Their new album, The Revenant King, however- well, it's a much more multifaceted album, better written, more epic and immersive while also being less cheesy and is in general a really good progression from a solid, but not spectacular debut".

Yeah, this would make a perfectly ok debut album but it's certainly a big old thumbs down and raspberry sound from me. Their debut hinted at a band that was capable of something really special, with a few tracks nailing that elusive double of epic atmospheres while being more addictive than crack spiked with sugar. This, however- well, it's full of a bunch of fairly average rocky tracks, a bunch of somewhat uninspired speed metal inspired stuff, and the vocalist does little but suggest he has a very limited range.

After a perfectly catchy and nicely martial bit of anthemic heavy metal with the opening tracks, it's Warrior Queen that pretty much lays down just why this album is pretty disappointing. Surely at least one person in the band as like "guys, the verse riff sucks", as it's really z-grade cock rock shit, the chorus is completely forgettable, and the intense cheesiness of the bridge.. well suffice to say that the earnest flute and overwrought vocals makes me wish I could listen to The Warrior's Prayer so I could put something less cheesy on. Most of the album isn't quite as soaked in stilton, but a big part is similarly forgettable, nonetheless- forgettable riffs, vocals that are loud and proud but tend to blend together more often than not, due to the limited range.. It is a big load of monotonous nothing. It's rarely shit, but there's only 2, maybe 3 songs that get your blood pumping. The rest could be comfortably excised from the album with nothing lost.

And it's no coincidence, but the three- Steel & Silver, Traitor's Gate and the nicely doomy title track- that are by far the best are the ones that would fit on the first album the easiest. It's not like we're talking inaccessible prog epics, all three have some massive singalong parts- but these are tracks that aim for more than just rocking out or whatever. There's immersion, there's a powerful atmosphere, there's parts that get you banging you head and raising your fist and whatnot, it's not just a quick meaningless in and out 4 minute tune where you don't remember the chorus or the verse or, well, anything.

Simply put, the cool parts of Visigoth- the long, unrushed songs that took you on a journey- have been rather unfortunately excised from this album, and hopefully the band remedy this next album. Worth looking into if you're a fan, but if you're new to the band check the debut full length instead.

Just too much. - 66%

Empyreal, March 17th, 2018

Visigoth is hot shit in metal right now. Everyone and their grandma loves these guys and I can see why. They make palatable, easy to get into heavy metal music, a streamlined version of the stuff the band members likely loved growing up, such as Manilla Road, Omen, Jag Panzer and the like. I really liked their EP Final Spell and liked the debut album a bit less – and this one is certainly a bit more concise and hard-hitting, like the EP, as opposed to the overblown and forcefully grandiose debut album. But I'm not really feeling it, honestly.

They can riff pretty well and the songs are loud and anthemic enough to get the blood pumping – and singer Jake Rogers is a huge talent with his big, powerful voice he wields like a fucking sledgehammer. But at the end of the day there aren't any truly great songs on this thing, and I just end up forgetting about this and not wanting to play it all that often. The riffs are kind of stock and while they're played with gusto, the whole thing just starts to sound like a Beginner's Guide to Heavy Metal, without a real identity yet.

There's just a lot of pomp and put-on airs about everything on here. It doesn't really sound genuine, and ends up being kind of exhausting to listen to. The energy level is high, but the band's aesthetic seems to be 'okay, you know that melody or riff we just played? Let's do another take, but bigger now.' There isn't a lot of room for much else other than that – it's a bit of a one-trick pony and gets tiresome to hear song after song of more of the same big, triumphant riffs and Rogers' epic wailing. I just don't really give a shit that much about how much they can evoke a fantastical warrior quest out of a Tolkien book I guess. And I'd rather go hear their influences than this album itself.

I liked the straightforward nature of this at first, but it's worn off and I haven't felt like playing this as much. Some of the songs on the last album showed the band could do more with their songwriting than this, and so I hope they will find it in them to write more interesting songs next time. They got potential but I just don't think they've made a truly great album yet – their stuff's pretty good but most of it seems to be surface gloss and pomp rather than substance so far. But I bet they're fun live.

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