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.
“Steel and Silver”
“Outlive Them All”
“Blades in the Night”
Conqueror’s Oath will be available on February 9 from Metal Blade Records.