Death Dealer – Conquered Lands Review

Formed in 2012 by Ross the Boss (ex-Manowar, Ross the Boss), Sean Peck (Cage), and Stu Marshall (Empires of Eden, ex-Dungeon), America’s Death Dealer is a bonafide heavy/power metal supergroup. Over the years, they’ve released two albums and picked up former Into Eternity drummer Steve Bolognese and Symphony X bassist Mike LePond, making the lineup for 2020’s Conquered Lands simply mouthwatering. I’m not familiar with Death Dealer’s previous releases, but as an unabashed fanboy of Manowar, Cage, and Symphony X — and Into Eternity to a lesser degree — I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wandering into these Conquered Lands with a giddy hopefulness that there might be some magic to be found within their borders. 2020 has seen several solid heavy and/or power metal releases by bands like Vision of Choice, Firewind, Judicator, Greyhawk, and Ironflame, so let’s see if Death Dealer can’t toss another winner onto the pile.

Death Dealer deal their death by way of all the classic heavy metal tropes: high-pitched wails, scorching guitar solos, pounding drums, and the almighty riff. Overall, Conquered Lands feels like a pretty good mixture of Peck’s and Ross’ more famous bands, combining the Painkiller-on-steroids vibe of Cage with the anthemic focus of Manowar. Marshall and Ross fill the album’s runtime with killer licks and grooves while LePond nimbly rumbles beneath, and the results should be satisfying to any true metal fan who hasn’t had their Hall pass revoked. Embedded single “Sorcerer Supreme” demonstrates this well as it tells its tale of strange doctors with an everything-cranked-to-eleven, completely over-the-top heavy/power metal meltdown. Peck sounds like he might literally scream his larynx out, and despite the strain evident at times, the track works.

But as Peck’s voice goes, so goes the album. In my opinion, Peck has at times been a legitimate metal vocal god. Just check out his performance on Cage’s 5.0 album Hell Destroyer1 — the title track is a great example if you want a specific song to sample — to see the immense power that this man can muster with his voice. But I think the years are beginning to take a toll on him and his delivery is a bit inconsistent as evidenced by some less than ideal performances on “Every Nation” and “Faith Under Fire.” But he largely proves he’s still got it on tracks like the Manowar-esque macho metal show anthem “Running With the Wolves” and on “Conquered Lands,” a slow churner that eventually blasts into a Megadethian call-and-response duel between Peck and solos from the guitarists. The former sees Peck carrying a charismatic swagger throughout and closes with one of his signature two-stage screams, and the latter is a surefire addition to the 2020 heavy metal songs of the year playlist. The album finishes strongly with a slightly melodramatic but heartfelt tribute to the military veteran suicide epidemic on “22 Gone” and the short-but-sweet, barn-burning closer “Born to Wear the Crown.”

If you’re a heavy metal fan, whether or not you enjoy Death Dealer will hinge upon your tolerance for Peck’s vocals. You all know how much I love Skelator, so it should be no surprise that I can tolerate a significant amount of cheesy wailing and straining in my metal. Otherwise, Conquered Lands is pure metal ecstasy. The production reveals a big bottom end, as evidenced by the way the guitars and bass crash together after Peck’s King Diamond spoken word intro on “Beauty and the Blood,” and the album as a whole is filled with crunchy and satisfying — if not groundbreaking — metal tales and anthems. Standouts include “Running With the Wolves,” “Conquered Lands,” “22 Gone,” and “Born to Wear the Crown.”

Well, if this star-studded lineup intended to create some new vision of what heavy metal can be, consider this a failure. But if Death Dealer is about a bunch of metal legends getting together to play and scream their hearts out and to have a blast doing it, Conquered Lands is a resounding success. Call me naïve, but I tend to believe the latter.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Steel Cartel Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 13th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Stop awarding extraneous high scores! – Steel Dictator
« »