Conquest of Steel - Hammer & fist 3/5
1. I am legend
2. A million strong
3. Born in hell
4. Lamentations (of war)
5. Taste the metal
6. Warrior's guide
7. Call of the wild
8. Under the sign (os the skull and crossbones)
9. May your blade never dull
10. Fist of steel part 1
What you see is what you get with Conquest of Steel's 2nd CD 'Hammer & fist', and what you see is 5 young men dressed in denim and covered in leather decorations. No prizes, then, for guessing that they play traditional 80s-style heavy metal with absolutely no nods whatsoever to anything modern.
When listening to the slightly-epic, Maiden/Priest/Manowar-inspired stuff on display, it's obvious enough from the amount of heart put into the songs that this is no sniggering irony band (see Viking Skull). Conquest clearly love what they are doing. The only problem with it all is that the songs are mostly lacking that something special that separates their likes from the bands they are shamelessly aping. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – but it also highlights the difference between followers and leaders. When a band are so knowingly imitating everything they do from elsewhere, right down to their dress code and ludicrous stage names, it is inevitable that creativity is going to suffer as a result.
There more or less isn't a thing wrong with any of the songs on 'Hammer & fist' – the musicianship is sound even if vocalist Dan Durrant is rather pedestrian – but only a couple manage to stand out from the pack as anything truly noteworthy. The obviously Running Wild-influenced "Under the sign (of the skull and crossbones)" has a nice galloping rhythm that sets it apart from the more plodding nature of a few of the other tracks, and the final full song "May your blade never dull" nails the epic vibe the band have obviously been trying to capture with less success on the biggest part of the CD. The remaining 7 full songs are all fairly enjoyable, but also sadly a little forgettable.
Conquest of Steel are the sort of band you find yourself willing to be better than they actually are – the idea is great, they can all play properly and their hearts are in the right place, but they just can't seem to make that step up to the big leagues in terms of songwriting. When watching them full of cheap beer in a dingy toilet of a club, they will seem like the best band in the world, but in the cold light of day, the music on this CD is only a little above average. It may sound harsh, but being brazenly old-school isn't enough when you don't have the tunes to back it.
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