To put it more plainly we were at one turn awestruck by the power, and at another mystified by where they were coming from musically and lyrically.
Having seen By Conquest Or Consent a few times live, we know what a force they can be, not least opening for Anthax on July 1st.
But Empires lulls you in slowly before bashing your brains in as if you'd been struck by the heaviest baseball bat in existence. All the while having your feet tickled. Yes, behind the ferocity there are subtleties that delight.
It is, however, an album that is clear in its intent - to take the best parts of modern and extreme metal, meld them with older versions of the genre and produce something unique.
Imagine Five Finger Death Punch meeting Death, Pantera and Kataklysm and deciding to jam together...that's as close as you'll come to even getting a hint of what Empires is all about. It is a unique interpretation of contemporary metal.
Opening with the obligatory delicate Intro and the mostly instrumental Self Exclusion the ideas and vision of the band are quickly into place in the ferocious Zodiac - a song about, we think, the notorious Zodiac Killer on the west coast of America.
Here the personal demons and terrifying pattern of a world disconnected from its humanism sets the tone for Pete as a narrator for those whose demons are never quiet, and a voice screaming out against the unjust and futile nature of the world.
Behind all that is the clear intent to thrust a middle finger up at the hidden hands of power and utter a defiant 'fuck you!'.
It wouldn't work against a monochromatic musical backdrop, but the clear muscle in By Conquest Or Consent is right there, driven by the varied but intensely exciting drumming of Andrew. Throughout he shows that the kit is as much an instrument as any other, using it to not only lay down a tempo, but top set a template for the rest of the band to build upon.
The only minor criticism is that a few times Dom's bass is lost in the mix, such as the otherwise excellent We Came to Bring the Fight.
Stand-out track on the album, The Truth Won't Set You Free has an intensity, with Jay and Michael weaving patterns of heavy riffing and melody, while Jay and Pete interplay on the chorus between clean vocals and guttural growls. Solos help make the sonic assault complete.
After contemplating the messages of 'The Truth...' you're hit with heads down speed metal as Max Ammo blisters earlobes and smashes faces with mailed fists - sure to be a cue in future live shows to 'hit the pit'.
Segueing from the impressive Last Emperor the album closes with delicate guitar work over riffs that tear the unwary limb from limb is album closer Revelations. More than six minutes of sheer metal delight, all the members producing stellar performances and riffs and guitar lines that, to coin a cliché literally flay
But it is all over too soon. Leaving aside 'Intro' and 'Self Exclusion' it is a seven-track album. Yes, they are on average lengthy tracks (Three is the only brief song, but it packs a lot into its three-minutes). After a few spins, and being stunned by 'The Truth...' and 'Revelations' - listen to the guitar work round five minutes into the track - we simply wanted to hear more.
With an album this good it leaves the listener on their knees begging for more.
Empires is a superb album, well worth investing in, and well worth spending some quality metal time with...
Empires is now availably directly from By Conquest Or Consent via Facebook or via their Bandcamp page.
Review by Jonny.
Stream the album below and then invest