Review Summary: Heavy caveman metal.
They are referred to by the media as “currently one of the heaviest bands in the world”, and this may or may not be because of the way in which Jon Davis, guitarist and vocalist for Liverpudlian doom metal act Conan, proudly proclaims the band to play “Heavy caveman metal”. That said, one listen to either of the band's two albums, more importantly the latest release entitled Blood Eagle
, and you'll safely be confirming the band's well renowned penchant for heavy riffs and fuzzy atmosphere.
, the band's second album, isn't too different from its predecessor, but it definitely marks Conan as one of the more relevant British doom metal acts formed in the last decade or so. Heaviness encompasses every one of the album's six songs, and though the sometimes mundane repetition of tracks such as opener “Crown of Talons” brings the overall quality down a bit, the instrumental performance is both powerful and overbearing to the listener. There isn't much in the way of lyrical content here but when there is, you can feel the band's passion for fantasy-related imagery and Norse mythology breaking through the music itself. The vocals are, for the most part, well-layered and mesmerizing, though thankfully don't last for any longer than a minute or so, leaving room for excessively haunting instrumental performances on songs such as the visceral “Foehammer” and its brooding successor “Gravity chasm”.
What really stands out is how the vocals intertwine with the general flow of the instrumentation, although there isn't as much diversity as some would have expected going into this album. Each song has at least a minute's worth of instrumentation before the vocals join in, and by the time the vocals arrive you should be taken in by the overall hypnotic atmosphere pushed to the forefront of the recording. Although on its own the vocal style isn't anything particularly noteworthy, it is with the crushing rhythm section where Conan work their magic. This is also where reading along to the lyrics comes in handy, as one can swiftly grasp a sense of the sort of imagery Conan have been trying to portray. Two of the three members in Conan take it upon themselves to harmonize with each other on songs such as “Total conquest” and “Horns for Teeth”, and when you can hear the soaring albeit monstrous chants of “An age of never. A time of loss. A thriving nothing. Dead at all costs.
”, it's almost as if the listener is made to sing (or shout, depending on the mood) along. The rhythm section itself is also nothing particularly diverse or complex, but you can feel the power of the drum rhythms in "Foehammer" and "Gravity Chasm" breaking through, making that instrument one of the highlights of Conan's overall sound.
There isn't anything else to say about Conan's brand of so-called “Heavy caveman metal”, but it certainly will satisfy those who want nothing but the most crushing and pulverising of doom metal. Sure, other bands are a lot more diverse and original, but if you can ignore the excessive repetition and take in the heaviness fully, you can safely enjoy what Blood Eagle
has to offer.