Review Summary: Resistance is futile
Napalm Records have set to become a haven for stoner fans. The label saw the rising interest in this type of music, so they started testing the grounds by signing some classic acts such as Karma to Burn, Monster Magnet or Brant Bjork. Soon after, another wave arrived with psychedelic groups like My Sleeping Karma, Glowsun or the hard rock/blues of The Sword or Zodiac. To complement these lighter bands, the Austrian label grabbed British “caveman battle doom” heroes, Conan. A bold move, however, Blood Eagle
is a solid record that introduced these guys to a vast audience that eats this stuff for breakfast.
After some very successful appearances at various festivals on both sides of the Atlantic (Roadburn or Maryland Deathfest to name a couple), Conan wasted no time and headed back into the studio to record a harder, more brutal follow-up to Blood Eagle
means “the act of gaining revenge at a rate of at least 2.54 times greater to that of standard revenge and 1.61 that of standard vengeance” (thank you Urban Dictionary). The music must vindicate such statistics and thankfully, it buries any doubts. If you are looking for virtuoso, artsy segments instilled with wandering, polyrhythmic patterns, leave now before these guys find you. This record is the musical equivalent to several slow, powerful fists in the face, along with occasional bloody boot stamps in between. Cuts like ‘Throne of Fire’ or the title track only reinforce that short style description, as they feature manic drums backed by pounding riffs and dual, shouted vocals. Nothing complicated or pretentious, they just want to continuously punch you in the guts. A clearer production graces our ears this time around, yet I find it helpful especially during the faster moments, where you can finally understand what happens with the guitars. Some purists might be turned off by this less medieval decision, although it only adds to the overall experience (everything is just as effective as before).
Contrasting the respective tracks, we get ‘Thunderhoof’ and ‘Wrath Gauntlet’, whose bludgeoning riffs drop BPMs every couple of minutes or so. Over the hard hitting drums and soaring cymbals, the fuzz saturation is at an all-time high, as these tracks trudge like an undead army. Few epic guitar leads take the forefront here and there, but it’s the uber heavy sound the one that creates the magic. If you thought the former’s coda is as far as they get, well that’s the starting point of ‘Wrath Gauntlet’. Bongripper would shed some tears of joy watching Conan drench the first part in feedback and waves of sonic dirt. When it finally starts walking, this uneasy tune rips you bit by bit. Moving forward, imagine all these elements thrown into one last mix to end it all. ‘Earthenguard’ is the last stand, as they bring out their biggest weapons to tear the house down.
In the end, it’s a bit pointless to elaborate on an album like Revengeance
, you have to listen to it to make an opinion. There’s a certain diversity present, although it works best when narrowed down to a few ramming riffs. I can’t lie, even at 49 minutes, when not in the mood this LP is exhaustive. Nevertheless, this is what Conan want: to put you down. If you are initiated in stoner doom, you’ll find there’s a lot of fun to be had. If not, better start somewhere lighter, because these guys are stuck in extreme mode. So, you can watch Vikings, Game of Thrones, smoke tons of pot, play some Dungeons & Dragons, smoke some more pot, perform pagan rituals or hunt while listening to this and have a blast. Seriously now, this record is undoubtedly the band’s crowning achievement so far, combining brutal force and really slow, fat grooves. With a little patience, you’ll find it a must for any doom/stoner fan and an early highlight of the year.