Beithíoch- “Conquest”


It’s time to admit that my knowledge of Irish and Celtic history and mythology are both pretty weak. Normally this isn’t something I’d give much thought, but I’ve been reconsidering my need to read up on these topics after finding myself in a slightly obsessive rut with Conquest, the newest release from Irish black metal act Beithíoch. It references the beast in all of us and I’d love a chance to become better acquainted with the thoughts and ideas that led to such a dense and fully realized album. I’m not sure what it is about Conquest that initially won me over, but I find myself lost amid the rush toward battle and the glacially slow passages that feel like standing at a cliff overlooking endless seas. It’s an experience that feels so in line with its region that it has me yearning to know more.

The charm of an album like Conquest is not in its first impression. At a glance, there is little to stand out on an album like this unless one is hunting for minute segments of riff or seeking a timeless headbanging experience. Not that those are poor reasons to be instantly drawn in, but for me they’re not often signs of staying power. Still, I kept finding myself compelled to click play again, not entirely sure why I was revisiting an album that appeared so knuckle-draggingly aggressive. I realize now that Beithíoch hits the perfect balance between so many things that, on their own, would make for a relatively tedious experience, but are so fascinating when mixed together. Conquest often hits in a chugging, melodic place that feels just like the rush towards death or victory. Still, if this were a one-note battle cry of blazing guitars and guttural vocals, it’d still fall short of expectations. Instead, Conquest finds itself filling every space imaginable in its ten tracks, from melodic gallops to churning walls of guitar to textured atmosphere of the album’s interludes, and all are executed in ways that feel so very in tune with the other approaches presented here. Beithíoch are certainly not amateur musicians, but as this is my first exposure, it seems they’ve spent the past seven years as a band cultivating a style that shifts wildly without losing sense of its crisp and direct vision.

If Celtic might and misery sound like your thing, I strongly urge you to grab a copy of this CD directly from the band. The glacial highs and the mournful lows may not sink in on the first listen, but this is a sleeper of an album that many sites have overlooked.