Conquest of Steel
Hammer And Fist
posted on 7/2007 By:
Throughout my tenure here at Metal Review it’s been very rare when I’ve been inclined to dissect two consecutive releases by any one band, let alone a group of lesser known proportions such as this one. As of the publishing of this review, the UK’s Conquest of Steel happen to be one of those bands, and as hesitant as I was to plunge forward with this assignment after having recently reviewed their somewhat promising May Your Blade Never Dull EP, the band has made the task much easier than I had anticipated. The reasons for this are simple – they play a style that I not only grew up with and love to this day, but they pull it off with an arrogantly confident enthusiasm, an enormously impressive amount of flair, and an admirable sense of knowledge as to what the NWOBHM era was about.
Hammer and Fist – the band’s second full-length and third release overall – sees the British quintet improving their craft by writing catchier, hook-filled numbers fueled by lively riffs coupled with tastefully catchy twin harmonies, a tangible rhythm section that firmly drives the music into the heavy metal battle the band continues to fight, and, as tacky as they are, lyrics that literally scream traditional 80’s metal in its purest, unfiltered form. The comparisons to early Maiden, early Priest, and more so W.A.S.P., especially in the vocal department, are inevitable ("I Am Legend", "A Million Strong", "Call of the Wild"), but toss in the progressiveness of a newer band like 3 Inches of Blood ("Born in Hell", "Lamentations (of War)") mixed with the harmonious leanings of the very influential Thin Lizzy ("Taste the Metal" (the album's strongest number), "Warriors Guide", and closer "Fist of Steel Part 1"), and you have an album chock full of fun filled songs that’ll have you banging the old noggin in unison from track to track. There is some filler to be heard, and the album does struggle to stay strong from front to back, but each song does contain certain traits that bring a modest level of enjoyment to light.
With that said, the problem I had with the EP was with the less than exciting lyrics and the lean production, and sadly enough both of those undesirable traits have carried over into the newest outing. While the band is obviously not concerned about straying away from the Manowar-ian lyrical approach that litters their work, it’s the similarly bland production of the album that’ll keep the group from competing with bands like Bible of the Devil, Slough Feg, and even Brocas Helm, who simply have that pristinely produced and up to date sound that appeals to today’s metal fan, giving their music the power it deserves to survive in today's scene. A little more oomph would have greatly enhanced the thinly produced guitars, not to mention the drum sound is still about as dull as it gets with a lack of low end in the kick and the high-school band-ish thud of the snare. The playing, however, does make up for this to a certain degree, as each member of the band possesses the ability to make their presence felt and heard throughout each number.
When all is said and done Conquest of Steel isn’t going to be taking names and kicking ass with this release, but Hammer and Fist is a fun little record that will appeal to fans who still get into this throwback style. If you can stomach the thin production and cheddary lyrics that flood this puppy, then there’s not a doubt in my mind that you’ll get flashbacks listening to this album while enjoying a nice mug of dark, warm ale. Essential? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. But when it comes to this style you could argue that not much that's released today is when compared to an album like Killers or The Last Command.
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