Thankfully, I’m also an idiot. And throwing gas on the fire of my idiotness are these occasional forays into distant magical realms that force me to reconsider my stance on things like, you know, one-person heavy metal bands. Ripped to Shreds is a fine example. Or at least they were, as they’ve recently morphed into a three-person endeavor, which is neat for them. There are others, of course, I just can’t seem to…
KONQUEST! Yes, how very convenient.
Italy’s Konquest is the sole konsequence of one Alex Rossi, a man with a clear affinity for classic metal, particularly from the early / mid ‘80s, and largely indebted to bands such as Sweden’s Heavy Load, NY’s sadly fleeting Cities, and a wonderfully limitless scattering of other heroes that thundered directly alongside the NWOBHM 40 years ago. Rossi is in charge of everything here—guitar, bass, drums, keys, vocals, songwriting, recording and mixing, with only the mastering being handled outside the confines through longtime trad metal champion Bart Gabriel (Skol Records)—and his capacity for absolutely nailing the overall energy and atmosphere of yesteryear is nothing short of remarkable. It’s the sort of thing that forces a guy like me to suspect he might’ve actually been there with the rest of us creaky coots, despite the fact that Rossi has yet to reach his 30th year on our planet. WHERE ARE YOU HIDING YOUR TIME MACHINE, MR. ROSSI. And can I please use it to jump back to the ‘80s and catch just one more whiff of that mystical “brand new cassette fresh out of the shrink wrap” scent.
Time and Tyranny is the second full-length under Rossi’s Konquest banner, and if you happened to have missed 2021’s sneaky hitter The Night Goes On, just know that the year and a half separating the two releases has found the project continuing its Heavy Loaded ways, but with an added measure of synth progression that brings to mind the Somewhere in Time / Seventh Son-era of Iron Maiden. It’s a very logical next step, really, and it’s one that fully confirms Rossi’s ongoing proficiency of the guitar, as these 37-minutes are bulging at the seams with wonderfully melodic, infectious riffs that strut like a Ralph Bakshi-penned warrior woman on the verge of gutting some hapless, lecherous chode. Moreover, stacks and stacks of shimmery leads continue to be underscored throughout the record, and Rossi’s notably fluid approach to his fretwork, when combined with the way everything’s mixed and mastered, further emphasizes that comfortingly familiar Somewhere in Time feel.
Rossi has a sort of utilitarian approach to his vocals: solid, functional and sincere, but that’s likely the area where some might wonder “what if” in terms of potential guest spots or bringing in another full-time member moving forward. At the same time, though, there’s something extra endearing about the full commitment to every facet of a creative endeavor, and Rossi’s voice is certainly sufficient enough to carry the narrative here. Simply put, they occupy a similar realm of “flawed, but this just adds to the overall uniqueness” that gives comparable bands such as Vulture’s Vengeance and Angel Sword an added edge.
The record is fairly straightforward, but anyone who’s spent hours and months and decades poring through and fully absorbing metal’s most golden age will find plenty inside the folds to grab onto—from the alluring warmth and comfort of a song like “A Place I Call Home” (solemn bow to “Wasted Years”) to the moodier slip into “The Traveller” (strong The Warning vibes) to the fairly surprising ballad (“The Light that Fades Again”) that manages to deliver an ideal soundtrack to any slo-mo Sylvester Stallone / Cobra montage without feeling too…overworked. In essence, there’s enough going on to provide a range of footholds that’s likely to give Time and Tyranny even longer legs than its predecessor. And closing the show with a track as epic as “Warrior from a Future World” (plus the fairly humorous decision to preface it with a 1-minute intro, “Enter the Warrior”) puts the perfect period on the sentence, particularly the manner in which the final minutes wrap the listener in that unmistakable warmheartedness we’d normally ascribe to a mulleted / headbanded Adrian Smith circa 1986. But hey, if you don’t feel like taking my word for it, the kind soul behind NWOTHM has provided a sanctioned full album stream for further investigation.
It’s worth mentioning, despite being a one-person endeavor (at least for the time being), Konquest is now retrofitted for touring. They just played Keep It True 2022, and promotional photos included alongside Time and Tyranny also include the full cast of defenders Rossi has enlisted for live undertakings. Does that mean Konquest will be an even more traditional traditional metal band moving forward? Hey, as long as Rossi’s at the helm, this ship is destined for righteous and rewarding waters.