Conquest – Under the Influence (Dark Star Records)

Conquest – Under the Influence (Dark Star Records)

Hit and miss - but mostly miss...

St Louis, Missouri natives Conquest have been extant for nearly thirty years, in the process recording seven full length albums and executing countless tours in their homeland. As a sort of present to themselves and their doubtless innumerable fans they’ve decided to turn human jukebox for album number eight and tribute some of the bands who have influenced them down the years.

This isn’t an unusual undertaking, though those who know Conquest will tell you it makes all the more sense for this band as they regularly play a ‘Tribute to the Metal Gods’ set during their shows; the question is, as it always is in these circumstances – do the band add anything new to the songs they’ve chosen?

On the whole, no, although bassist Rob Boyer and lead guitarist Mike Crook do seem to have put a lot of thought into their respective parts, especially on the band’s metalised take on Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive and an excellent version of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave. For the most part, however, the album plays out like an exercise in glorified metal karaoke, with singer Derrick Brumley playing the part of ‘man who likes to think he can sing hogging the mic all night’ to a tee.

Brumley’s problem is his phrasing. He can carry a tune, no doubt about it, but on almost every song here he’s slightly off with cues and timing; So much so, in fact, that by the end of the record you’ll have convinced yourself it’s part of the man’s style. However, when you’re messing with the parts of vocal giants like Rob Halford, Phil Mogg and, erm, Vince Neil, then you gotta expect a bit of heat if you ain’t delivering the goods, and if we’re being brutally honest – which we are – the singing here does detract from the overall enjoyability of the project, especially on a car crash rendition of Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell.

Musically, however, there’s lots to enjoy, with the band’s reading of Mötley Crüe’s Red Hot being a particular success, as is a breakneck run through Motörhead’s Ace of Spades. If competent musicians running through versions of songs you’ve already heard a million times before sounds like something you’d be interested in, get involved. If not, then this is a vanity project you need not concern yourself with.

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