Sunday, 31 January 2016

Caveman Battle Doom: Conan - Revengeance (2016)

Conan - Revengeance

Sleeping giants rise as chariots circle. A hand of steel rains fire as the earth cracks and fury spews from below. Steeds flee up mountainsides as blacks shapeless warriors hunt, a choking black cloud follows their every move. Revengeance is the soundtrack to an ancient and mystical warfare, the battle-cry of desolate armies, the dying moments of a monumental battle. Conan are oppressive doom titans from the North-West and with their third album Revengeance have chiseled a much more complete and well-rounded album from the carrion remains of Blood Eagle and Monnos.

There is a much greater urgency from the get go here as 'Throne of Fire' begins with a rapid fire barrage of doom speed before the song crawls to a pained stop. The disharmonious duel vocals breakthrough the slabs with power: the deep, airy gasps of bassist Chris Fielding cling to the surface like smog while Jon Davis' battle cries pierce like a poisonous arrow. They have a primal vulnerability that works so well. The song picks up pace again as the drumming comes to life: a rising giant. 

'Thunderhoof' begins with a less deep and cavernous riff, the song climbs higher, crawling up the mountainside. It's repetitive, imprinting it's fuzzy hooves into the memory.  The fourth track, 'Wrath Gauntlet', is slab after slab of drawn out doom that creaks and ruptures from all angles. It's a vast and loud sound: the guitars, as expected, are fizzing and flaming war-hammers. Conan are unforgiving andm carrying on the with ancient warfare imagery, they confront you from head-on, looking you in the eye as they gallop towards you with obscenely large war-hammer in hand. Revengeance - on the surface - is not subtle, it won't sneak up on you and cut your throat (although the drumming is rather nuanced and subtle at times).

Conan - Photo

With the speed of a thousand burning rocks hurled from catapults 'Revengeance' begins, striking in its change of pace following 'Wrath Gauntlet'. The single from the album is a stampede of sound: the thumping mammoth heavy drumming is littered with meaty blast-beats, the guitars also intensify with mid-paced riffing and high pitched feedback. There is a much greater diversity throughout Revengeance as a whole; the second half especially espouses a more classic doom sound with the occasional stoner-desert-classic sounding riff progression. Beneath the thick crust of fuzz, 'Every Man Is An Enemy', solid riffs dance among the chugs. 'Earthenguard' opens with a Kyuss desert-rock trembling, slowly finding a groove: a victorious army swaggering around - or fleeing from - the battlefield. It cascades into demented Mastodon-esque vocals with a heavy plodding rhythm. The drums once are once again  are captivating: new - for this album - drummer Rich Lewis really fits in. I'm not a drum expert but in them seems a vaguely jazzy fluidity that counteracts with the rigid slabs of sound from the guitars. A slow saxophone sounding solo emerges at 9.20 as the drums also cannonball and explode, it's a really glorious ending to the album.

I've always really appreciated Conan for there no nonsense and no vvimps approach to the doomier side of metal. They have a great aesthetic and their albums set an incredible tone and paint powerful images. (Also their album artwork is my favourite in metal; check out the artwork of Anthony Roberts here). Some may say that they are repetitive, but, in my opinion, that's their strongest weapon; they build their songs, layer on layer, slowly and simply but to great effect. Long may battle doom continue.

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