There are some good bands who are part of the NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) movement. And then there are some GREAT ones! Lucky for our ears, VISIGOTH fall into the latter category, and with their sophomore record Conqueror’s Oath (February 9, Metal Blade Records) they only cement that fact. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah of all places, these guys clearly worship at the altar of our metal forefathers, as evidenced by their 2015 debut The Revenant King. But make no mistake, they aren’t ripping anyone off, or just being vapid clones. The eight songs on this new disc show a young band hungry and full of fire, just like those who came before them.
The record opens with “Steel and Silver” and what’s great about it is that the band opted to make a powerful statement by NOT going with some raging speedster to start us off. The song instead marches along, the twin guitar attack of Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana leading the charge and firing up their armies. “Warrior Queen” was the first track I heard off this album and singer Jake Rogers delivers his lines in such a commanding fashion you’ll want to join him and his bandmates in taking up arms. What’s nice is that he doesn’t feel the need to wail like a banshee, either. Not that I don’t love high-pitched wailing, it just wouldn’t work with these tunes, methinks. Check out the blistering guitar solos, too.
If by this point you’re not sufficiently revved up you just don’t get it, and probably never will. And if the power, fury, and fire of “Outlive Them All” doesn’t send you into overdrive you’re pretty much dead inside and therefore useless to me. So you should probably disengage and go listen to some bullshit summer festival radio rock. “Hammerforged” shows off a rhythm section of Matt Brotherton (bass) and Mike T. (drums), stuck together like glue and playing off the power of the riff, while “Traitor’s Gate” starts out one way before heading in a completely direction. It also is a perfect vehicle for Rogers’ voice and not surprisingly it’s one of the album’s best cuts.
“Salt City” is a bit different from the other songs in that it’s more straight-ahead rock and roll than metal. An homage to their hometown, it’s good but sounds a bit out of place despite having the necessary flash and balls as well as a tasty guitar solo. Another instant winner is “Blades In the Night” which has the horses nearing a stampede. On the other side of that coin, closer and title track “The Conqueror’s Oath” ends things on a much slower note, sounding at first like something that would play as we survey the bloody aftermath of an on-screen battle sequence before picking up the tempo around the halfway mark. I can see the bodies of the fallen and the ground bathed in blood as we speak.
Overall Conqueror’s Oath is a very, very good record from a band I think has only begun to scratch the surface of the greatness they are capable of. They have released two albums, and the second is a huge step up from the first. If they keep this up their next one just might be a near-perfect masterpiece. The group is already making great strides, and I think this is going to be a banner year for them. All hail VISIGOTH for keeping me enthralled from beginning to end, and for flying the flag of Traditional Metal in 2018!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Warrior Queen”, Traitor’s Gate”, “Blades In the Night”, “Steel and Silver”