Nowadays the term legendary is thrown around with causality but when it comes to bassist Ross The Boss it’s perfectly fitting. Having played with punk legends The Dictators and the none-more-metal Manowar his legacy is secured. However, not content to rest on his laurels he formed Death Dealer to forge new ground in metal and they’ve just unleashed their incendiary third album Conquered Lands.
As you’d probably guess by their moniker Death Dealer aren’t the kind of band to waste time on preliminaries and after the briefest neo-classical flourish “Sorcerer Supreme” arrives like a runaway freight train. Drummer Steve Bolognese powers the song forward with machine gun rapidity but Death Dealer aren’t all pure bludgeon as a quieter mid-section adds a brief moment of respite that only serves to highlight the ferocity on either side. As openers go “Sorcerer Supreme” is pretty damn perfect and packs a hefty punch that’ll floor even the most hardened metalhead. Barely pausing for breath the fast and furious “Every Nation” follows hot on its heels and it’s a bass heavy earworm that will, from first listen, burrow deep into your cranium.
It’s not until we reach third track “Beauty And The Blood” that we get a breather of sorts as an ambient spoken word intro lulls us into a false sense of security before the band release vengeance from the skies and reign down with all sorts of chaos. An anthem of sorts “Running With The Wolves” was the albums lead single and, fully laden with melody, it swings like a huge wrecking ball. It’s a track that’s sure to transfer well to the live environment and finds vocalist Sean Peck on top form as he bookends the song with an ear piercing scream. Title track “Conquered Lands” is an epic track of biblical proportions and soundtracks armies of slaves dragging huge granite blocks and its more measured pace provides the album with a fine centrepiece.
Like Manowar incarnate “Hail To The King” is a slab of balls to the wall metal that’s enhanced by a production that places emphasis on the bottom end and turns “Hail To The King” into something of a skull crusher. Firmly planting their flag in thrash territory “Slay Or Be Slain” is a bruiser that remains an evocative number despite its windswept velocity. Likewise, the mosh pit inducing “Faith Under Fire” is a neck snapper that finds guitarists Ross The Boss and Stu Marshall igniting crystalline skies with solos that explode like phosphorous flares. “22 Gone” is a prototypical power ballad very much in the vein of Queensryche that sets things up nicely for closer “Born To Bear The Crown”. It pulls all the strands together to deliver a blistering track that stomps like Godzilla and makes the silence that follows positively deafening.
Manowar, Symphony X and The Three Tremors are just some of the names on Death Dealer’s collective CV. Bringing a wealth of experience the five constituent members could be construed a supergroup but Conquered Lands is much more than the sum of its parts and stands as one of 2020’s essential releases.
Conquered Lands is out now via Steel Cartel