Release Date: 19th June 2020
Record Label: Craft Recordings
FFO: ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, KISS
As far as ‘best of’ albums go, not every band has such an incredible back catalogue of songs as was available to The Sword. A career spanning 17 years, 7 studio albums and tours with the likes of Metallica, Lamb of God and Trivium is bound to produce an eclectic concoction of career highlights. The assortment of live recordings, B-sides and fan-favourite songs into a 30 track (16 previously unreleased), three-disc vinyl collection is the perfect way to celebrate one of the 21st century’s most beloved metal bands.
The live recordings offer a selection of impressive live show highlights, with tracks coming from shows at notable Austin, Texas venues Emo’s (2005) and Stubb’s (2011), as well as New York’s famous Bowery Ballroom (2007), and includes hits such as ‘Freya’ and ‘Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians’ amongst many others. Fans of The Sword are able to look, or rather listen, back with fondness as the dynamic Texan rockers prove yet again why they’re considered one of the sharpest live acts in the metal scene.
The studio recordings kick off in thrilling, high-octane fashion with ‘He’s Waiting’, though perhaps the most interesting thing about Conquest of Kingdoms is the inclusion of a series of cover versions of some of metal’s most iconic bands. ‘Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings’ (ZZ Top), ‘Immigrant Song’ (Led Zeppelin), ‘She’ (KISS), and ‘Forever My Queen’ (Pentagram) are all featured on the album and while the inclusion of cover songs on a greatest hits album is slightly unorthodox, it adds a unique twist to the celebration of The Sword’s legacy by granting a more personal insight into the major influences of the band; you could almost consider ZZ Top and Led Zep as the blacksmiths that helped forged The Sword. Placing The Sword’s biggest hit, ‘Freya’ (originally released on the 2006 album Age of Winters) alongside such illustrious company succeeds in affirming The Sword are more than capable of creating their own raucous masterpieces.
A particular highlight of Conquest of Kingdoms is the inclusion of ‘Daughter of Dawn’, a song previously only available as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of their 2010 album Warp Riders. With melodic hooks and enthralling vocals in plentiful supply, this song feels like a real treat for fans of The Sword, however it does create a slight sense of envy that it wasn’t available a decade sooner!
Conquest of Kingdoms presents a generous collection of heavy riffs, pounding drums and electrifying vocals that truly encapsulates The Sword’s iconic sound. The combination of live and studio recordings, previously unreleased material and B-sides, and a selection of incredible cover songs makes this one of the standout ‘Best Of’ albums to come out of the hard-rock genre in recent times.
Rating – 7/10
Recommended Tracks – ‘Freya’, ‘Daughter of Dawn’