VISIGOTH Hammerforged

US based traditional heavy metal group Visigoth are just about to issue their 2nd full-length for Metal Blade Records. Their 2nd offering ”Conqueror Oath” is a natural step after their great debut effort ”The Reverent King” (2015). In the sea of various traditional HM bands that are hailing from US shores Visigoth are one among the best! 

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Hello! Please, could you present your second album from your point of view? “Conqueror’s Oath” presents Visigoth in the best possible way!

I would like to think that ‘Conqueror’s Oath’ is the logical continuation of what we started with ‘The Revenant King’ – the latter album was our first foray into writing, recording, and performing a heavy metal album, so there was of course a certain amount of inexperience or naivete involved! With this new record, we didn’t change anything stylistically, we simply put a directed emphasis on tighter songwriting and more concise arrangements in order to create a more immediate and memorable listening experience when compared to the overly long-winded feeling the first record tended to have

Do you have any major song that could present the entire record. We have already seen that Warrior’s Queen is out and that the people are reacting in the best possible way.

It really depends on what the listener is looking for! If the listener is interested in our music from the perspective of a fan of US epic metal, I would say that maybe ‘Steel and Silver’, ‘Traitor’s Gate’, ‘Hammerforged’, or the title track ‘The Conqueror’s Oath’ would be the best representation of the album. For fans who are maybe more interested in the aspects of our sound that draw from USPM, I think ‘Outlive Them All’ is probably the best starting point. Personally, it’s hard to say because I hear the flaws in all of the songs, but I think maybe ‘Steel and Silver’ is my favourite song on the record, and likely the one I would introduce people to first if they’d never heard us before

Visigoth’s debut work ”The Reverent King” (2015) has already achieved the great success. So, are you satisfied by the reaction of the fans and media? 

The reaction is more positive and widespread than we ever could have imagined or hoped it would be! For me, the most important thing is the response from like-minded fans – people who are listening to the same kind of music that I listen to and love, because those are the people who will have an understanding of what we are aiming to achieve with our album. In that sense, yes, I am quite satisfied with the response we’ve been receiving – but that being said, we want to be releasing records that we are personally happy with, and by that token, ‘Conqueror’s Oath’ is a much bigger success. We are much happier with this record, and I definitely feel like it’s a stronger effort overall

Could you compare your debut record ”The Reverent King” and brand new issue ”Conqueror’s Oath”? 

I think that ‘The Revenant King’, while having some strong moments (such as the title track), definitely had a fair share of flaws. Primarily, I think that ‘The Revenant King’ dragged, particularly in the middle of the record; I think that overall it was too long, likely because it was our first record and we threw everything we had written at the time onto it, and as a result it’s very difficult to sit through the entire thing. ‘Conqueror’s Oath’ intentionally addresses this issue; we focused on really ‘trimming the fat’ when it came to the arrangements and songwriting. We wanted this album to have the same approach to lovingly emulating our influences and evoking our favourite aspects of fist-in-the-air triumphant heavy metal, but in a much more direct, concise fashion.

I’ve already noticed that you are planning quite a good tour though Europe and that you will appear on keep it True as well. So, tell us something about it?

This will be our second time in Europe, and we couldn’t be happier to be returning! We had the time of our lives last time we were over there, and we have a lot more gigs this time around. We also feel very reinvigorated as a band since we have new material that we’re happier with to tour on during this trip! We’re playing a handful of incredible festivals with absolutely phenomenal lineups, and I’m just as excited as a fan to have the opportunity to see all of these bands perform as I am to have the opportunity to play shows of our own, so I really couldn’t be happier!

As a matter of fact Visigoth is complete based on traditional US Heavy Metal. Could you tell us something about your influences? 

Sometimes, we are pulling from epic heavy metal in the vein of Manilla Road, Omen, Cirith Ungol, or Manowar; other times we are inspired by USPM such as Riot’s ‘Thundersteel’ album, Jag Panzer, or Twisted Tower Dire; of course like any heavy metal band there are plenty of NWOBHM bands that have influenced our approach to writing, such as Cloven Hoof, Elixir, or Quartz. I would say one influence that some people may not immediately hear in our sound that is important to me is actually epic-era Bathory (such as Hammerheart, Blood on Ice, or Twilight of the Gods), particularly in songs like ‘Steel and Silver’. There are a lot of riffs or sections of our songs that are direct nods to specific influences, because we really enjoy wearing them on our sleeves – for example, Lee and Jamison intended ‘Salt City’ to be a nod to Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, and UFO, and when I wrote the opening riff and verse to ‘Outlive Them All’, I intended it as a tribute to some of my favourite classic Eastern European heavy metal bands. It really depends on the song with us!

Who has done the cover artwork for the band this time and what would you like to present by it? Its indeed epic… 

The cover art was done by the venerable Kris Verwimp, who is truly one of my favourite heavy metal album cover artists of all time! Ever since I was a young high school kid gazing at his enchanting paintings for killer bands such as Absu, Desaster, Skullview, Bewitched, Horna, Marduk, Sear Bliss, and countless others, I have wanted to be involved in music that was associated with his work. It’s a dream come true to be working with him! This is the second album of ours in a row that has been graced by one of his artworks – this one was inspired by the lyrics to the tracks ‘Warrior Queen’ and ‘Conqueror’s Oath’, and it turned out better than I could have hoped!

Also, Visigoth has done one great video for the title track from previous record The Reverent King so do you plan to film one more epic video like before?

Yes, we made a music video for the song ‘Warrior Queen’, which at the time of this interview being published will have likely already been released.  Making music videos is a process we are still getting used to, honestly – I don’t think any of us ever thought we’d be at the point where anybody would be expecting us to have music videos in the first place! The first video was made on a very, very small shoestring budget of around $70; we had a little more resources available to us this time around but it was still very much a DIY project in many aspects. We are fortunate to have a good friend who has also played in some Salt Lake City metal bands here who is experienced with videography and worked with us to visualize the concept for the clip.

Traditional HM has made its comeback there’s no doubt about it. So, how would you explain this phenomenon especially in US? 

I think the explosion of popularity that this type of heavy metal has been experiencing here in the US has a lot to do with a tandem eruption in accessibility – YouTube has made it very easy for younger kids to discover records that used to require a lot of digging through local record shops, album liner notes, and obscure forums (I’m young enough that old internet forums were part of my sphere of awareness, but they offered a much different experience than some of the more immediate browsing options available now). There are a number of fantastic festival options here in the USA now, such as Frost & Fire, Legions of Metal, Defenders of the Old, Northwest Metal Fest, and others that are allowing people to fully engage with their interest in more ‘traditional’ heavy metal styles. It’s much more active and prevalent than it has been since the 80s in my estimation.

I would like to thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best! Hope to see you somewhere live. 

Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, I appreciate it! Up the hammers, down the nails, and defend the faith!

  • Answers by Jake Rogers 
  • Interview by Marko Miranovic
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