Tuesday, August 15, 2023

CD Odyssey Disc 1667: Visigoth

Sometimes music makes you think, and sometimes music makes you sad, but this next album just made me rock, and that’s just as valid an experience.

Disc 1667 is…Conqueror’s Oath

Artist: Visigoth

Year of Release: 2018

What’s up with the Cover?  Once again, heavy metal albums represent!

A paladin in full plate armour and mounted on her trusty steed looks down upon a phalanx of spearmen. She looks capable of kicking all their asses, if she can only get her horse to work properly. There is something seriously wrong with the front legs of this horse, which appear to be doing some kind of calisthenics or yoga stretch prior to the battle. Attention artist: horses do not do this.

Despite this disturbing anatomical inconsistency, I declare this cover with its armies, knights and majestic castles, awesome. If you fold out the booklet you get even more spearmen and also another warrior who looks ready to assist our paladin in evening the odds, or at the very least willing to pick her up out of the river when her horse inevitably falls on its face.

How I Came To Know It: I feel into a Youtube hole, clicking through a bunch of bands that all fell vaguely under the banner of “New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal” which is a genre I’ve been discovering over the last few years.

How It Stacks Up: I’m on the lookout for two more Visigoth albums, but so far this is the only one, so it can’t stack up. I believe it will end up the best, for what its worth.

Rating: 4 stars

Discovering new music is a wonderful experience, and so is rediscovering old music you forgot you liked. Listening to Visigoth’s “Conqueror’s Oath” felt like a bit of both.

Visigoth is traditional heavy metal, which is essentially the stuff I grew up with, maybe with a bit more crunch, but essentially the same. No guttural voices, limited double bass (just the right amount) and songs that get in and get on it in a hurry. Visigoth trades in the pure stuff – riff driven tunes, anthemic vocals that soar across the top of the mix and songs about all manner of epic stuff.

This music brings out the best of my 14-year-old self, filled with all manner of fantasy, swordplay and derring-do I used to love as a teenager. Who am I kidding, though? I still love this stuff.

Case in point, the opening track, “Steel and Silver”. I was happy with it just being a song about some warrior running about slaying bad guys. A review of the lyrics revealed references to “Kaer Morhen” and the Plains of Temeria – both of which it turns out are part of the Witcher series of books/games/TV shows. One song in, and Visigoth had already out-fantasied me.

More than that, however, “Steel and Silver” is a kick ass metal track. Opening with a furious electric guitar trilling its way through an intricate melody, before turning into a thumping army march of a chorus, pounding away with Dread Import. It is awesome.

Also fun was “Outlive Them All” which is – very literally – about the movie Highlander. The refrain of this tune is “there can be only one” which is that movie’s big catch phrase. Is it silly? Sure, but Queen did an entire record of songs for the movie (“A Kind of Magic” reviewed way back at Disc 749) and I didn’t complain about that. “Outlive Them All” is no “Princes of the Universe” but it is still awesome on its own terms.

The album’s best track is “Traitor’s Gate” which is a seven-minute journey of glory. Lead singer Jake Rogers’ vocals are at their best here, and he gets a chance to really show off through the whole opening quarter of the song. That features a light and mysterious movie overture quality that inevitably converts to a furious guitar riff (and a bit of well-placed double-bass drumming). Lyrically this song is over the top in all the right ways. Some choice lines include:

“Stars, be my blazing guide
Lighting my way like torches that murder the night”


“Fly through the traitor’s gate
I am the reaver that rides on the cold winds of hate”

Not exactly Dio, but not exactly not Dio either.

This stuff is poetry of a lesser kind, but it is good clean fun, and it makes you want to pump your fist. If anything, it is when they try to sing about something normal that they fall apart. Notably, “Salt City” which has them channeling the “let’s party” vibe of Saxon, extolling the virtues of their hometown Salt Lake City. It’s all a bit manic and contrived, but even here you can tell the band is having a good time, and that counts for something.

This type of music is not for everyone. It helps if you were forged in the hellfire of eighties metal at its height. Loving a good (or even a bad) fantasy novel will also be a benefit. If you are in that subset of metalheads, though, then “Conqueror’s Oath” is a rocking good time.

Best tracks: Steel and Silver, Outlive Them All, Hammerforged, Traitor’s Gate, The Conqueror’s Oath

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