In a sea of gimmicks and sub-genres, it’s sometimes easy to forget about good old heavy metal. There are still bands flying the traditional flag though, and Visigoth are certainly one of them. Their new album, The Revenant King, is scheduled for release soon and it looks set to reclaim swords and shields from the legions of face-painted warriors out there.
Before the review begins properly though.. You, person that’s reading this, are you a fan of straight up no frills heavy metal? If so, and if the release date of this album has passed (27th January), stop reading this immediately and buy this album. You’ll like it and you can thank me later by coming back and reading the rest of this (double hits from all!).
When I saw this in my review list I immediately expected folk influences, big choirs or at least a keyboard, so I was surprised when the opening and title track hit me with a classic metal attack. It’s sort of strange to hear this sort of theme these days without any folk elements or death metal vocals. It’s almost as if Manowar were mixed with a stoner rock band at times.
It’s almost a love letter to what made heavy metal heavy metal. Everything is big, from the riffs to the choruses. The lyrics are dripping in fantasy lore and the song titles are enough to give George R.R. Martin an erection.
I’m a sucker for any song about raising things to the sky and hearing battle cries (hence my love of Manowar, those guys are all about raising things in the sky). The second track, Dungeon Master, proved to be that song. While I get my battle cry kicks there, the other tracks check off what else I love about this sort of metal. Vengeance has you picturing a horse galloping over the fields, or the bodies of your foes depending on if you’ve had a bad day, while Creature of Desire has one of those intros that almost makes it mandatory to form some sort of fist in effort to join in.
Mammoth Rider, is almost too fast for the title at the start, you want it to be a slow lumbering behemoth of a song from the title, but the galloping riff into the full on headbang section in the middle makes up for it. When it finally gets to the big sludgy riff and you picture that Mammoth crushing through the landscape, it’s a worthwhile pay off.
Throughout the album the guitar work is a treat, worthy of an air guitar, which as a guitarist, is the best compliment I could think of. The riffs are pure classic metal, not always overly complex but with enough going on to make them stick in your head.
A lot of the bands power lies in their vocalist, Jake Rodgers. You sometimes get an impression that some vocalists try to enter a range they aren’t comfortable in and therefore sound a bit thin. Rodgers holds fort in the mid range, but when he bursts into higher territory (Creature of Desire‘s intro for one) he really grabs you by the balls. Or himself by the balls, it’s a pretty high note after all. The ability to turn a gravelly note into a clean note also allows for aggression to mix with emotion pretty seamlessly (though fuck it, this is classic heavy metal, there’s no room for emotion here!).
Song of the album goes to From the Arcane Mists of Prophecy, or Dungeon Master, it’s a coin toss where heads and tails are both winners so go nuts.
As you’ve probably sussed from this review, I’m rather keen on this release. Sure it’s nice to have deep messages and hidden meanings in lyrics, but sometimes it’s nice to just let it all go and slip into classic metal lyrics, escapism at its finest. You might say you’ve heard it all before, but you haven’t heard this, and you definitely should.
The Revenant King will be released January 27th via Metal Blade Records. For more information, find the band on Facebook