Review Summary: Band-Maid takes another step, but one of those that take artists to newer grounds. Conqueror is a superb album that combines the best of the hard-rock/metal and pop appeals of the band.
For those who don't know this band, Band-Maid is a Japanese band that has interesting looks for the eye but holds an enormous ability to create catchy but also complex songs. The talent of the girls is equivalent to their beauty, surprising people with the contrast between the appearance and the music.
The band had to go for a long way to reach their actual position. It actually started as a kind of idol project in which the founder of the band Miku Kobato had to find members for the band. They performed some frustrative concerts that were thought to be the end of the project. Saiki Atsumi joined the band to be the lead singer and then things started to get better. They were given creative liberties to compose songs and the lead guitarist Kanami Tono unleashed her potential for songwriting. Their albums started to get their own personality that currently separates the band from other similar japanese acts. "Just Bring It", "World Domination", "Unseen World", etc. are examples of the progression the band had over the years refining their sound and technical skills but at the same time including catchy choruses and melodies.
Previous to this album, Conqueror, the band released the fan-favorite World Domination. It presented the band at the peak of their formula and thus provided many hits. Unlikely, Conqueror had some changes and twists to all the previous works, which made it the most diverse album of the band.
We still have catchy songs here. In fact, all of them are, but the main changes are in the instrumentation and the rhythmic pace. We can find slow songs that don't contain much electric guitar work but prefer pop and j-pop instrumentals such as PAGE, songs that continue the vibes of Daydreaming and even intensify them such as Endless Story, and even songs that exploit the old formula with heavier results such as Reincarnation or Blooming. But it would be an error to consider this album as experimental, its correct appreciation is that of an album that expands the basics of a band.
However, not everyone was pleased with this release when it came out. It was said that the band softened their sound too much, or that the pop elements were a mistake. I believe this album was a natural transition from World Domination that fans didn't appreciate enough. Maybe this response from the fans resulted in Unseen World, a good and much heavier record but less innovative.
The album Conqueror is an excellent album without weak tracks, one that shows the best guitar work from Kanami, the more subtle but also soulful bass work from Misa, the pop influences of Miku and once again the incredible vocal range of Saiki. It has also been more and more appreciated with the pass of years, a trend that I hopefully will continue and show the band they can do more with their music (actually, the rapping by Saiki in Influencer, Unleash is maybe a sign of this, time will tell).