Visigoth - Conqueror’s Oath

Visigoth Conqueror’s Oath cover
Conqueror’s Oath
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 via 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 pummelling 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 instalment, “A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’ King Lear”. Here’s to hoping Visigoth keep its stick, er, sword on ice and follow-up with an equally deft third release.