Bratford UK may not seem as the obvious breeding ground for a true-metal band, but Conquest Of Steel
prove otherwise. These guys took some Manowar
lyrics, spiced them up with Iron Maiden
and general NWOBHM influences, and created a second album that is best described as old-school true heavy metal at its best.
It took some time for the album to grow on me, but when it did, it did so big time. The guys certainly know their metal, and though the Manowar and old school American power metal influences are in there, it's clear the band is 100% British. Combine that with a strong ear for catchy melodies, strong musicianship and a solid vocalist and you've got a winning metal formula.
Opener I Am Legend uses just about every metal cliché in the book, but so help me Odin, it works. The band's Iron Maiden influences are in every riff and melodic harmony lead, the drummer also does a fine job and the bass player is from the Steve Harris school of thought, all of these add up to a dynamic and head-banging good time.
The best track on the album is probably the second one – A Million Strong, it's a real metal anthem with the catchiest chorus possible, and great guitar work. The band's warm and not slightly pretentious sound fits them perfectly, and the vocals do just what they need to do, they serve as the basis for the music, and stick to a strong melody line.
Two tracks here are slower, more complex, and use British folk riffing as the basis, Skyclad
certainly comes to mind, and apart from the violin, the resemblance is definitely there. In Lamentations Of War both the drummer and bass player excel, with some smart melodic lines that elevate the track, And in Warrior's Guide the same Folk touches are used more lightly, but are still there.
Taste The Metal again sounds like an Iron Maiden song with lyrics by Manowar, the guitar melodies and fine lead work come off as classic Maiden, and the strong vocals give it another interesting flavor.
Anything wrong with this release? Well, probably the cover. If the band intends to sell some records it'll need to use something stronger, and more professional looking for the cover. Like it or not, in this genre the cover is the first thing that sells an album, and with the current one they wont be selling anything near Iron Maiden. Apart from that? Probably nothing wrong here.
This band is a glimmer of hope for British metal, in a current scene dominated by crap American metal-wanna-be bands, it's good to know some bands still stick to what the British did so well in the 80's – traditional, melodic heavy metal. It may be clichéd, it may be old-fashioned, but by the hammer of Thor – it's honest.