Conquest Of Steel - Hammer And Fist
No Face Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (40:03)
Release year: 2007
Conquest Of Steel, No Face Records
Reviewed by Ross
Many years ago the genre New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was spawned to describe bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Venom, Motorhead etc. So, under what genre do you pigeonhole the amazing band Conquest Of Steel - The NEW New Wave Of British Heavy Metal? – No; I think not. According to the band, their music is quite simply – METAL, and after listening to their new album Hammer And Fist I have to agree, though to be more precise, I’d have to say BRITISH METAL. Conquest Of Steel have stuck doggedly to the musical style that has made the afore-mentioned bands great with a ‘Don’t fix what isn’t broke’ attitude. This not saying that Conquest Of Steel are a ‘Tribute Band’ to all those who originated the NWOBHM tag, no, they have taken the tried and tested formulae and stamped their name all over it. Just as you can tell who each NWOBHM band is after listening to just a few bars of their music, you are able to do exactly that after listening to Hammer And Fist. Once you have listened to Hammer And Fist, next time you hear a Conquest Of Steel number it will only take a few bars for you to know exactly who’s playing. Had NWOBHM been in its infancy today, I’ve no doubt that Conquest Of Steel would be one of the greatest exponents of the genre. And, whereas the great original NWOBHM bands may only play large venues, stadiums and festivals, bands such as Conquest Of Steel are playing an essential part in keeping this style of music alive and kicking by taking it far and wide to the small clubs for the benefit of the masses.

It was in one of these small clubs about two years ago that I first encountered Conquest Of Steel; a basement bar in Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. With every other band on the line-up being brutal Death Metal, including the awesome Man Must Die (See Review), I expected them to get a rough time from the discerning Edinburgh Death Metal-heads, and beat a hasty retreat to the back of the room. However, less than half way through their first song we all realised they were not ‘Just Another Heavy Metal Band’. The crowd soon warming to their unique brand of British Metal, headbanging away like a bunch of demented woodpeckers. Vocalist Dan then produced this fucking huge sword and started swinging it around; how he managed not to decapitate any of the crowd or even one of the other band members I don’t know. It did manage to impress the crowd though. By the end of their far too short set, they had the crowd well and truly won over and baying for more. Their ‘True Metal’ style jogs a lot of memories to a lot of people of what got them interested in Metal music in the first place; before they got deeper into the scene and discovered what really floated their boat. After the gig, I got speaking to the boys and told them I thought they were ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ and thought their live set was awesome, and, if they had a demo, EP or album I’d like to review it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything with them at the time so I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open on their progress ever since.

At long last it’s my time to deliver on the deal. Hammer And Fist is a huge chunk of ‘NEW’ NWOBHM that should be part of every Metalhead’s collection. Yes you can hear the massive Murray/Smith/Gers, Tipton/Downing style guitar assault from guitarists Diesel Dave and D.D. Danger and rhythm section Vic Victory and Chris ‘The Destroyer’ Mills keep everything all tightly wrapped. And yes, Dan delivers songs that have a bit of a whiff of cheese about them. But, they are creating and playing music that they want to with no compromise. In a recent UK Metal mag Terrorizer article of the band Dan confirmed their philosophy thus: “It’s the dilemma almost every band faces. Maintain your freedom and possibly sacrifice playing to a bigger audience or sign to a big name and be asked to make some compromises. I don’t see us ever compromising, which means unless we find a bigger label who supports what we do 110%, we’ll keep it DIY.” You definitely gotta admire them for this, and you know it’s said without even the slightest trace of bullshit!

Even though Hammer And Fist is undeniably True Metal, there are other influences subtly infused into the music - Lamentations Of War and Under The Sign (Of The Skull And Crossbones) have a certain Folky-ness about them, there are times throughout the album that Chris Mills’s drumming cranks up the heaviness just a tad and there are times when the guitar riffs stray into the realms of thrash; and by the way, the guitar solo outro of Taste The Metal kicks serious ass. The production quality of the record could be better but this is minor and, to be honest, only seeing these guys live are you ever going to feel the full effect of their music. Surf on over to their Website and My Space page and get some sound samples, or get some bootleg visuals on You Tube.

There a few ways the fallout from Hammer And Fist could go: A major label will pick them up with the promise of no interference with their creative process and go a-knocking at their door; another is other bands will see their current independent label No Face Records as a label that will allow them their creative freedom which will also allow No Face to acquire a whole bunch of unique bands. Whichever way it goes I have no doubt anyone will ever be able to say that Conquest Of Steel have sold out. When I first met them I thought they were pretty switched-on arriving at the venue already dressed in their stage gear – Cut-off denim jacket emblazoned with many Metal patches, studded belts and armbands, I now realise that this is their normal daily attire and with a presentation like that you just know what they’re gonna deliver. And once they start, you know you’re not gonna be disappointed. With Diesel Dave leaving to be replaced by James ‘Claymore’ Clarke and Chris Mills recently breaking his wrist I hope this is not a bad omen. With all the hard slog these guys have put in over the years it’s time for their overnight success and hopefully Hammer And Fist takes them that bit nearer to that success that they justly deserve.
Killing Songs :
I Am Legtend, Lamentations Of War, Taste The Steel, Under The Sign (Of The Skull And Crossbones)
Ross quoted 89 / 100
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