Review: Visigoth – The Revenant King

The Visigoths were branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples, referred to collectively as the Goths. That is according to Wikipedia. But Visigoth the band is an entirely different proposition to the Gothic tribe that defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378AD.

Certainly they take their classical history very seriously – classical history of metal on ‘The Revenant King’, which is released on Metal Blade on 27th January.

Setting aside the lyrics – more on these later – this is a superbly enjoyable release from the Salt Lake City five-piece, notable for the performances of guitarists Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana.

They turn in a riff-laden assault that harkens back to the glory days of late 70s and early 80s metal. There is certainly no doubt that they take their European and NWOBHM roots very seriously, eschewing the cookie monster lyrics, despite verging on proto-thrash at times.

Opening duo of the title track and ‘Dungeon Master’ set the template for a romp through metal class – with the up-tempo ride following the obligatory ‘quieter bit’ on ‘Dungeon Master’ particularly enjoyable.

Mikey Tee’s unfussy drumming keeps the sound tight, with Matt Brotherton’s bass keeping the sound from running into parody. Indeed for the first listen we were tempted to say that they were a parody band, especially when the PR blurb accompanying the release has lines like: “Jamison Palmer slung his mighty axe over one shoulder and trudged his way through the ice and snow of this inhospitable realm, lending his soul-rending riffcraft to the legion.”

Taking the piss? Maybe the waffle is, but the band is clearly not, as can be heard on the mid-tempo ‘Mammoth Rider’.

On the seven minute plus epic ‘Blood Sacrifice’ the ‘classic metal’ power take comes to the fore, with it’s brief picked guitar opening. But it is Jake Rogers’ vocals that soar here as the speed increases. His range is good and he can pound it with an intensity few of their forebears could muster.

Notable for its execution is ‘Vengeance’ with has a chug-a-chug riff á la Maiden, and Rogers tearing off an enjoyable set.

Album closer ‘From the Arcane Mists of Prophecy’ is almost 10 minutes of pure fun – with changing tempos and more than a little reminiscent of early Helloween – and that’s no bad thing.

Now – on to the lyrics…Are they deep and meaningful? No. Unless there is an allegorical meaning lurking they are daft, silly, and filled with tales of ancient days and fantasy worlds.

Like Manowar, to fully appreciate this release you need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy them; we all know that the joy is in the stupidity, but then again they pull this off well.

While doffing their caps to the European and UK scenes, they also do not forget their US colleagues, with a cover of Manilla Road’s ‘Necropolis’. Perhaps this is why Visigoth are able to produce such a relatively accomplished release on ‘The Revenant King’. They have absorbed, sponge-like, their formative listening experiences and put their own stamp on it. By no means a perfect release, nevertheless, put your brain in neutral and kick back and enjoy Visigoth as they rampage through your aural tracts!

Review: Jonny Traynor

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