The first full-length album from Seattle’s Greyhawk is a particularly interesting iteration of the NWOTHM scene. A focus on hooky songwriting with an epic tone makes for easy comparisons to such contemporaries as Visigoth and Traveler as the production carries a polished sheen similar to the likes of Haunt or Idle Hands. While these factors would initially suggest that the band is just another notch in a long line of derivatives, they find a lot of ways to set themselves apart on Keepers Of The Flame (Fighter Records).
The brainchild of Winterfylleth guitarist Dan Capp, Wolcensmen actually predates his time in the Mancunian Black Metal outfit by some years, and is a Folk project dedicated to a time when This Sceptred Isle was unperturbed by religion and industry. Originally released in 2016, Songs From The Fyrgen (Indie Recordings) is a reissue of Dan’s first foray into full-length territory and is a stirring and emotive one. Continue reading
I love Heavy Metal.
Ah, let’s try that again. I love Heavy Metal.
That unplanned, unstoppable euphoric feeling that rises through from the gut, that creates an extra pump to your heartbeat, that puts an involuntary grin on your face, that makes you propel a fist, or add an extra bounce to your step. Or gurn. Or do the oranges. Or the claw. Or however, it is that you express that feeling of “YES!” when it gets you. Continue reading
Playing epic, classic heavy metal is not a road to travel if fame, glory and success is your goal. Visigoth front man Jake Rogers showed his warrior spirit by talking to Ghost Cult and defending the honour not just of his tribe, or their new album, The Revenant King (Metal Blade), but also their place in the metal world.
It’s been 25 – 30 years since most of your influences were at their peak, and while there is a lot of love and respect for bands like Manilla Road et al, but what makes Visigoth relevant at a time when heavy metal in that form has long moved on in style and sound?
We aren’t concerned with ‘relevance’, we are simply concerned with heavy metal music. True fans of heavy metal don’t care what is “hip” or “cool” or “in”, they simply enjoy what they enjoy and that’s that. I love all sorts of metal music, be it heavy metal, black metal, black thrash, death metal, doom metal, USPM, speed metal, thrash metal, etc.; if it’s real, I dig it! And of course we love plenty of non-metal music as well, because we’re music obsessives! But the type of music we wanted to do with Visigoth was powerful fist-raising, sword-weilding heavy metal, no more, no less.
Playing such a traditional style could be said to have its limitations. What can you do with Visigoth going forward that you haven’t already, or that metal in general hasn’t already done before?
We won’t be doing anything that hasn’t been done before. We are not interested in experimentation or progressive elements or trying to be “genre-defying” in any way. We are not a special snowflake band whatsoever, we are simply a heavy metal band. Some people will scoff at the notion, calling it quaint and regressive, and that’s fine – those aren’t the type of people we would want to talk music with anyway! We’re just a heavy metal band playing heavy metal music for people who love heavy metal music.
How do you balance the irony vs the seriousness with the band? I mean, at what point, (such as say during the writing of ‘Dungeon Master’?) do you think “Ah, this may be a bit close to the line”? I know these are tropes that have been prominent in traditional metal for years, but what’s the thinking around subjects, image, song titles, live presentation and balancing that with being concerned about being too cheesy?
Nothing we do is ironic. This band is passionately from the heart and 100% serious. I am completely against irony in heavy metal. If you think metal is a joke, you have no business playing it. Of course, there are some great bands that have a sense of humour about their music (take Metalucifer, for example), but their humour isn’t ironic, it is a humour born of affection and love for the genre, and they still take the music seriously.
The distinction is a very important one, in my opinion. Sure, some people will think a song like ‘Dungeon Master’ is “cheesy”, but I honestly wrote those lyrics because my experiences playing those table-top roleplaying games and computer games throughout my formative years were really important to what would later become my appreciation for heavy metal aesthetics. A lot of people who are into heavy metal music can relate to this – those who can’t, will call it cheesy and move on. That’s fine, because it’s not for them.
When writing lyrics, coming up with song titles, or devising concepts for artwork or general presentation, I never concern myself with whether or not some toughbro or cool-dude beardo on the internet is going to think it’s cheesy – they can look elsewhere for bands with the modern, up-to-date, hip, cool image that they’re interested in.
Actual metal people tend to understand and unironically enjoy fantasy/barbarian aesthetics and classic heavy metal imagery, and that’s our target audience.
What will make Visigoth stand tall for years to come?
Our dedication to heavy metal music, our passion for playing live gigs, and our drive to improve – we know we aren’t a great band yet, but we’ll keep trying until we get there!
Salt Lake, Utah, is currently drowning in a weight of fan mail – or it would be, if such a thing existed these days. As it is, the various devices of a collective of young metal heads are pinging with platitudes, praise and sites and zines falling over themselves to pay tribute to the greatest thing since ale was quaffed for the first time.
For here is a band, Visigoth, who are revisiting a template established over 30 years ago – a template forged in the fires of “proper” Metal. And on their debut release, The Revenant King (Metal Blade), they doth verily show both their might and wares in a display of muscular, chunky traditional metal. Embracing a rich heritage, their roots of American Classic Metal shine through in the touches of Dio, ‘83-‘85 era Manowar and Manilla Road in their sound. Indeed, halfway through we are greeted with a cover of ‘Necropolis’ from the Road’s seminal Crystal Logic, (Black Dragon/Iron Glory), but this is not a one-trick elephant, as ‘Mammoth Rider’ brings a doomy, epic Candlemass crush before riffing off into Iced Earth territory.
There is a tendency at times for critics and punters alike to fawn more over the concept, ideology and premise of a band, or to be honest entire sub-genres – mix some brooding passages with some sludgy riffs and screams and your band is guaranteed some serious beard-stroking – rather than paying attention to whether what the band is actually delivering merits such a response. Playing traditional metal shorn of the normally pre-requisite Power Metal trappings and singing of armour and days of “yore” also garners similar stroking, though this time not of a beard of hipster origin, and some of the acclaim and commendation of Visigoth is over the top. Yet this is a furrow much ploughed over the past three decades (except for that bit in the 90’s when no one would touch classic metal, even with someone else’s bargepole) and this fledgling quintet have turned in a very respectable effort that shows reverence to the revenant spirits of metal of a bygone age without being derivative, which is no mean feat.
If there are criticisms, while they manage with professionalism the weightiness of penning a series of epic songs (with the exception of ‘Necropolis’ all our adventures weigh in over the five minute mark) some including several sections, at times this does go on a bit. Elsewhere, Jake Rogers vocals, while entirely appropriate, lack a touch of character or distinctiveness, but sharpening and maintaining their weapons is something fledgling warriors learn over time. Visigoth certainly have the weapons and steeds to be successful riding into what promises to be a long and successful campaign. The first skirmish has been won, but great war-leaders make their name by being victorious in a series of battles. Visigoth’s name and reputation is growing, though, and with time many may ride at their side to ultimate victory, glory and fame.
7.0 / 10