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Released: 2014, Nightmare Records
CONQUER is the third album for Atlanta’s Halcyon Way, a band that was starting to make real headway with 2010’s BUILDING THE TOWERS effort. They’ve been relatively silent since then, and I have to assume that lineup issues contributed to that, as 2 of the 5 band members have been replaced since then. I didn’t have a chance to check the band out back then so CONQUER marks my first exposure to the band.
The fact that the band is on Nightmare Records says that, without even hearing a note, I could basically imagine what Halcyon Way would sound like: progressive American power metal. Sure enough, that’s exactly what I got when the album’s title track crashed through my headphones. I wasn’t too sure about the growled backing vocals that sounded more metalcore than death metal, if you know what I mean, but on the other hand, I was impressed with how heavy it sounded for an American power metal song. Granted, lead (clean) vocalist Steven Braun is an acquired taste, but he is more than capable of handling things without the growls intruding. Unfortunately, the growls permeate much of the rest of the album and completely threw me off, to the point where this was going to be a largely negative review.
Fortunately, many further listens really began to grab me; indeed the growls became less intrusive, if never quite enjoyable. It’s only when the growls take centre stage, as in “Militant” that it threatens to ruin the song. I realized that this is a testament to the song writing quality that this band possesses. The songs kept sticking in my head and making me come back for me, despite my initial dismissal. Not only that, but they are damn aggressive for a power metal band; certainly heavier than many of their contemporaries.
I won’t go so far as to proclaim Halcyon Way the new leaders of American power metal, they are definitely up there, especially as they are attempting to forge their own path without relying on the too typical tropes of their genre. CONQUER will certainly be a divisive album amongst fans, but it’s an album that deserves to be heard.
2. Web of Lies
3. Conceived in Torment
5. World Comes Undone
7. Hatred is My Cause
8. The Poisoned Apple
9. Save Your Tears
10. Every Second Counts
11. King of Ruin
12. Eviscerate the Morning Sun
Steve Braun: Vocals
Max Eve: Rhythm Guitar
Jon Bodan: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals, Programming
Skyler Moore: Bass, Backing Vocals
Ernie Topran: Drums
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