I’ll admit, I’m pretty open minded when it comes to being entertained by live bands. I thought it was pretty cool to see DARK FUNERAL in corpsepaint and customized black metal costumes. When I heard that RIGHTS OF SPRING would cry onstage, hell I thought that sounded like it could be entertaining to see too. When I looked through the CD insert, I saw the vocalist of CONQUEST OF STEEL hanging on to a medieval sword during a live show. That could be fun! It probably reinforces some already negative stereotypes about power metal, and it’s also probably dangerous to have the singer swing a sword around while playing, but who cares!
Now these boys in CONQUEST OF STEEL do pretty much everything they can to play into the power metal cliche of being obsessed with everything medieval and D&D. I have to say, these guys put some effort forth on what they’re playing, and they make it sound damn fun!
Due to the fact that I’m not familiar with much power metal (and I’d love to cover it as part of the news portion at my website, Way Too Loud!, but if I did, I wouldn’t have enough time for things like sleep, which probably explains to a lot of you why power metal doesn't get enough coverage at Metal Injection) I can’t really compare CONQUEST OF STEEL to very many bands. Most of the bands outside my personal regulars of power metal are usually songs I’ve heard through streaming on the net. I think IRON MAIDEN is great, I love NEVERMORE and 3 INCHES OF BLOOD are a hoot, but I can really only say that CONQUEST OF STEEL have a really 80’s theme going on in their music. They are able to transfer their theme of medieval times through their regular instrumentation, and with a couple of instrumental interludes between songs though.
There are some downsides to “Hammer & Fist” though, and it seems the bands passion and energy outweighs their skill. The playing is a slight bit loose by power metal standards. Those guitars could use a slight bit of fine tuning to get the tone a bit closer to the sound they’re looking for, as well as getting those strings perfectly in pitch. The singer doesn’t quite do a perfect job, as he gets a slight bit off key at times, (it gets really bad when he tries to hit some of those higher notes) and you can tell that he uses the other instruments to tell him what key he’s in, because when he sings by himself without band support, he really goes off key. A little confidence could help, as well as some vocal lessons. Don’t get me wrong about the vocal lessons suggestion, whenever I suggest that it’s always to improve upon a good skill that’s already there, and I’m certainly not going to say he should stop singing any time soon. Production is also problem. Unless someone can perfectly re-create an 80’s style of production, then anything less than polished doesn’t really work in the world of power metal.
I’d love to mark CONQUEST OF STEEL a point higher, as when the album starts off, it’s fun and I barely think about all the little downsides. Unfortunately the album loses steam as it progresses, and turns from a fun-filled sword swinging romp to an enduring slog to make it to the end. When the fun levels start to drop, all of the sudden all those once minor problems become really big setbacks.
I’m sure if CONQUEST OF STEEL were to spend quite a few months as road warriors, they’ll be able to perfect their craft and mature as musicians.