Review by Jeff Maki
It rarely happens anymore in my musical ventures, but “Conqueror’s Oath” is an album I had to check out solely due to the cover. Look at it—just look at it! The “Warrior Queen” is straight out of the “Dungeons & Dragons” Players Handbook. I remember as a teenager paging through the companion books, and as I searched for rules, I’d see fantastic, colorful renderings of sword-wielding, scantily clad women fending off vile fiends amidst piles of treasure. For the record, the artist responsible for the album cover is Kris Verwimp, whose work has graced records by Absu, Bewitched, Desaster, Horna, Moonsorrow, Skullview, Arkona and many more. So what lies beyond these castle walls on this album of swords and sorcery?
“Conqueror’s Oath” is the sophomore album of Salt Lake City, Utah’s Visigoth (Vis-i-goth), following its 2015 debut, “The Revenant King.” There have been many throwback bands, but these armor-clad heroes have the songs and charisma to wield the blade (+2) of traditional metal. Think early Iron Maiden and Dio, largely due to the phenomenal range of vocalist Jake Rogers. Think if these bands had released albums between “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave,” or “Sacred Heart” and “Dream Evil.” Visigoth is not reinventing the wheel. Instead, they “dedicate themselves to worshipping at the ageless altars of heavy metal.”
The lyrics of “Warrior Queen,” the theme song of the album (and presumably the figure depicted on the cover), lyrics could have been penned by Ronnie James Dio himself. The anthem’s lyrics suggest the “Warrior Queen” is one who perhaps is worshiped and certainly not to be fucked with. She lays waste on her “winter battlefield.” We are introduced, or “re-introduced,” to the twin guitar attack of classic NWOBHM, courtesy of guitar heroes Leeland Campana and Jamison Palmer. Rounding out the band are bassist Matt Brotherton and drummer Mikey T.
Recently released was “Outlive Them All” (listen below), a galloping, epic tune in the mold of “The Trooper.” These lyrics are ageless, as Rogers proclaims he (or whatever fantasy figure he represents) shall “outlast the moon and the sun!” This is my favorite song of the album.
The Maiden influence is heavy again on “Traitor’s Gate,” a song that begins as a Bruce Dickinson-style ballad before taking a turn to power metal.
“Salt City” is the most fun of the tracks here, a dangerous kind of party anthem, paying tribute to home, in the vein of “Detroit Rock City.” The guitar soloing here shreds.
At eight songs of classic metal, “Conqueror’s Oath” is a thrill-ride of an album. But despite its obvious influences, this is no parody or cover band. Visigoth doesn’t have any comedic aspects in its music. This is a true homage to the music, done correctly. Visigoth has taken the metal from the ’80s and forged it with its own musical prowess. The forefathers would be proud.
February 9, 2018, Metal Blade Records