Review Summary: Potentially the best metal debut album of 2018
Hype always affects the way in which people interpret an album or anything for that matter. Hence why it’s sometimes best to limit or reign-in any presumptions of an album before it is released, however, you can’t help but hope a band- especially one who is releasing their debut album- lives up to the hype the media has branded them with. Moreover, going by how Holy Roar Records appear to churn out exciting, fresh bands and albums like it’s the most natural thing in the world, the odds were always in favour of Conjurer successfully living up to the skyrocketing levels of hype surrounding them.
Already, Conjurer has been unanimously defined as a band that sounds like a bleak, sludgy, viscous mixture of all their influences after being put through a blender and, at face value, that statement is entirely true. They cherry pick various styles which other bands have mastered such as the bludgeoning rhythms of Gojira, the cohesive anguish of The Black Dahlia Murder and the meaty tone of Crowbar and blend those styles to create their own brand. Luckily, Conjurer’s ability to bind these styles together so successfully is what makes “Mire”
such a cohesive success rather than sounding like the band is simply impersonating their influences. This also makes them a difficult band to pigeonhole into a single genre because rather than move from genre to genre to express different moods, they use the techniques in which those various genres are defined by to keep their songs dynamic.
“Thankless” displays this subtle method best. Black metal, hardcore, melodic death metal and sludge are all present here but it’s the techniques each genre is known for Conjurer uses that connects the dots as they move from genre to genre. Scraping riffs and calamitous drumming establish a sense of immediacy (one that is present throughout most of the album) to begin with, soon after clean vocals emerge which, thanks to the brilliant mixing, sound like they are a mere echo beneath Dan and Brady’s slathering growls before murky, watery melodies increase boil into an eruption of discordant stomps. “Of Flesh Weaker Than Ash” is a stand-out in terms of cohesion and dynamism too, where suspicious melodies twist back and forth from malicious riffs and dominant shouts to wary, controlled movements while always retaining a dark atmosphere.
Conjurer gives ample time for these transitions to manifest which strengthens the cohesion of “Mire”
, nevertheless, the direction the songs proceed in is predictable at times. “Mire” illustrates a maddening sense of urgency, highlighted by how the stabbing guitars and huge breakdowns poke at “Retch”, ultimately provoking it to lash out with brutal sledgehammer-to-the-face at its conclusion. Tracks such as “Retch”, “The Mire” are capable of amazing but lack a certain sense of surprise that Conjurer is capable of conjuring, as illustrated in their brazen EP ““I”
” two years ago.
That being said, the moments where you begin to question Conjurer’s brilliance are sparse and can be brushed off immediately when reminded that “Mire”
is a monstrous statement of intent. Its production job sounds suffocating without feeling suffocating and overall, “Mire”
introduces an unerringly tight, punishingly heavy, and above all endlessly dynamic sound that bludgeons the assembled masses with a gargantuan wall of savage, stunning noise intertwined with subtle moments of fragility, desperation and catharsis. This Midlands-based quartet may have unleashed the best debut album of 2018.