Review by Chris Pratl on February 7, 2018.
When I first heard Visigoth's demo Vengeance a couple of years ago I was quite impressed with the raw and primitive sound captured by the Utah-based outfit. There was some definitive folk and NWOBHM influences spread out pretty thickly in the tracks, and I honestly saw some great potential for the band.
Well, it seems a slight shift in gears has occurred for the band with its first EP Final Spell. Where it seemed the band was heading down the familiar folk-metal road (more on why this statement is relevant later) with some early traditional influences in tow, they now have emerged, in the words of the old Six Million Dollar Man TV show, “...better...stronger...faster.” Well, not a lot faster, but certainly heavier and with a lot more potency in the mixed areas of the music.
Vocalist Jake Rogers seems more comfortable in his vocal abilities this time around, flexing some muscle through four tracks that seem to call upon all the best of the metal army without overstating the cause or relegating the sentiment to triviality and loose interpretation. His effort in “Seven Golden Ships” is about as Viking as a kid from Utah can get, and it works brilliantly! There is no silly embellishment or ridiculous recklessness in the performance; his ability is about as pure and unconditional as it comes. The band rounds out the sound with some metal music you might hear in old school heavyweights such as the mighty Judas Priest or Heavy Load, but there's also some tremendous 'new' style to be found ala Speedwolf, Steelwing, or Midnight Chaser. When you get to “Call of the Road” you might be apt to easily dismiss it on the title alone as it might appear to be laden with cliches, but please don't deny yourself this piece of heavy metal goodness. The typicality of the bar-band sound is rife all over it, but the sharp edges and crisp production really stand out as Rogers belts out the new anthem of the road-weary traveler with such conviction and pride you can't help but dig it on all axles. It's like an 18-wheeler on fire heading right through a dozen concrete barricades at top volume and top speed - it's fantastic!
Going back over the EP with my usual fine-tooth comb I hear such attentive texture and layers of pure heavy metal music being offered here. The lyrical essence of the fantastical imagery interspersed with subtle touches of realism and basic flag-waving calls to arms is mixed just enough to appeal to your innate 'patriotic' persona that tirelessly defends the cause and enjoys the tunes. While not a life-changing venture, Final Spell is a definite jaunt back to a period that has spent many years in relative anonymity, only to find wondrous excavation by the younger, brasher military ready to lift the cracked and battered torch once more. This is a promising EP that you will listen to more than once and enjoy it more each time you ingest it. After hearing the call of “We stand and fight--/and we won't die--/we are immortal--” in “Seven Golden Ships” you somehow don't question such boldness or leave it as simmering hubris. This track is so thick and looming that it's almost a physical presence pushing down on your chest, it's really that solid. These guys are as good as they come, people.
If you are familiar with bands such as Heavy Load or any of the grittier NWOBHM bands from the early 80's you'll certainly find comfort and wanton abandon in this EP. For the traditional sound now making its presence known in all circles again, Utah is well represented.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)