Review Summary: "They come with fire, they come with axes!"
When your band is named after a Cimmerian barbarian of whom no man can match for strength, it’s only fitting that your music should carry the matching brutishness of this character. Conan have been cruelly assaulting our ears since 2007 with their self-characterised ‘Caveman Battle Doom’ however it wasn’t until 2012 that they finally unleashed their debut album “Monnos”. While entrenched in the underground scene they were picked up by Napalm Records (Kampfar, Ahab, Enthroned) 2 years later to release their equally pulverising “Blood Eagle”. A further 2 years later, Conan are ready to unchain the gut-punting “Revengeance” that bears enough heaviness to have its own gravitational pull.
After a recent line-up change where drummer Paul O’Neil is replaced by Rich Lewis, Conan sullenly went back into hibernation. The deep rumble of ‘Throne of Fire’ awakens the beast from its slumber and it instinctively strikes. Unholy shouting from Jon Davis emerges out of the spiteful rhythms and cowers back again to reveal a variation of dynamics that never jeopardise the foggy low-end rumble that Conan can naturally fabricate. While the guitar tone is certainly deep and cavernous in any material with Conan’s name on it, “Revengeance” carries an alternate elasticity whereby David and Chris Feilding (bass) can alter the tempo seamlessly without ever compromising the reverberant tone of their guitars. This is the exact case in album closer ‘Earthenguard’ where these changes of rapidity also eliminates any sense of lethargy that doom metal can often emit; instead of being bored of the same chord you’re actually gnawing for some sort of climax which only ever arrives when your agonising patience reaches a peak.
The definition of the term ‘revengeance’ is to undertake “a furious act of revenge/to use violence to attain peace”. But this album isn’t your average we’re-angry-about-a-certain-thing album; Conan are absolutely livid. ‘Wrath Gauntlet’ encapsulates all mannerisms of malice that this album has to offer. Muscular chugs remain composed as usual that increase the sense of threatening authority while painful and straining harmonics erupt as the sonic torment commences through elongated rhythmic sections which don’t quite hit Earth or Sunn O))) tests in stamina but still come pretty damn close. The title track features the same crushing force as ‘Wrath Gauntlet’, featuring degrading lyrics such as “We are all nothing/ You are nothing” but it’s played with an intense and vulturine presence where Rich Lewis’s drumming really shows his worth (and wroth). It’s as if Conan torture your senses for their own amusement.
The only real downfall to “Revengeance” is expectedness. They could draw out a riff for eternity however you know that there is going to be an even slower breakdown afterwards- like in the oozing ‘Every Man Is An Enemy’. Davis’s caveman-like vocals haven’t changed a bit either, although his simplistic approach at barking out lyrics does match the zero-tolerance aesthetic that Conan portray. Nevertheless, Conan still succeeds in creating an all-consuming record to add to their short, yet potent, catalogue.