Some of you may know the comic book character Iznogoud, whose catchphrase is “I want to be caliph instead of the caliph”? Well, sometimes in Metal I also get the feeling that there is a whole bunch of Iznogouds out there, just replace the word “caliph” with a band name and voila, there you have it. Now I recall that I had really enjoyed Ukrainian CONQUEST’s debut album “Endless Power” back in 2002 and even though I called a few elements STRATOWEEN, it was good, it was fresh and all.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the band’s 3rd album “Empire” (the one in between didn’t make it into my CD player, unfortunately) and I feel reminded of Iznogoud, just that it seems as if CONQUEST try harder than ever to be STRATOVARIUS instead of STRATOVARIUS... From the opener “It Begins From Your Heart” on, the STRATOVARIUS influence is VERY prominent, from the catchy keyboard riff to the overall good quality double-bass Power Metal and it doesn’t really let up after.
Being a very big fan of the older STRATOVARIUS as well as most of the other European Power Metal bands, he emulation of that style technically is not a bad thing, the problems start, though, once the melodies don’t stick, the compositions seem lacklustre and the only track that really made me want to listen to it again right away was “Faith Within”, which is a bad sign, a really bad sign, with “We Have Returned” being the definitive low point of the album, because it’s just plain weak.
I am not sure, if I was in the wrong mood when I listened to this album (but can I be in the wrong one every time I listen to it??), but this one is a dud...
(Online October 10, 2010)