I’m probably the last person I’d expect to see reviewing an album by a band such as Salt Lake City’s Visigoth. I’m usually the coward running the other way when “power metal” is mentioned but something about these traditionalists and their debut The Revenant King threw a bolas around my ankles and dragged me into action. Perhaps it was the name, or the revenant king that adorns the cover, or perhaps I was just bored and hit play on the promo. Because that’s all it takes. Once those galloping rhythms and overall infectiousness descend upon the battlefield, it’s all over.
I’ve heard mention of Visigoth sounding similar to Manilla Road but for someone not familiar with them, I’d say Visigoth is pretty close stylistically to the latest Grand Magus album, Triumph and Power. Employing the battle-tested tactics of traditional metal – recognizable mid-paced riffs, catchy as the plague clean vocals and ripping solos – Visigoth tap into that primal instinct for furious headbanging and rampant air guitar.
Lyrically obvious (“Dungeon Master,” “Vengeance,” “The Revenant King”), vocalist Jake Rogers calls the legions to arms with anthemic choruses and ample range, including a little grit. That he does so without too much falsetto should hold the attention of those not willing to trade in their black t-shirts for frilly ones (or no shirt at all).
These nine tracks are run through with a plethora of hooks that will bury themselves in your head deeper than a battle axe in an un-helmed skull both vocally and musically. Guitarists Lee Campana and Jamison Palmer make up a deadly twin guitar attack especially when their arsenal includes the kind of blistering solos as heard on album standout “Iron Brotherhood”. The massive chorus and group chants fill the listener with pride on this anthem analogous to the metal community at large.
There’s a rock sensibility to it all with somewhat predictable but not unwelcome song structures. Those solos scream into play just when they’re expected to. But sometimes Visigoth mix things up a bit. Like on “Mammoth Rider” where things slow to a glacial pace and take on a very doomed mood, calling to mind acts like Candlemass.
There are moments of balladism, the swagger of cock rock and romping nature of NWOBHM to be found as well, making Visigoth more than just a one trick pony. Although at just over an hour in length, that much of what is mostly the same can be a tad much. But that can be forgiven when each track is backed by enough blood-thirsty energy to fill any sized venue, from the most intimate club to the largest festival stage. Crawling over a mountain of hooks and plunging headlong into the fray, Visigoth and The Revenant King bring metal’s founding tenets to the modern age. And if they can capture the spirit of doubters such as I, they just may do the same for you.
Released January 27, 2015 on Metal Blade Records