They’ve come a long way since we gave them the Future Hits treatment nearly two years ago – Conan are now one of the rising stars of the UK doom scene, being booked for festivals all over Europe and suchlike. Hugh Platt made sure he got down amongst it when Liverpool’s most pummelling trio made it to the Black Heart of Camden.
6 things we learned watching Conan in London…
1) Unfortunately tonight isn’t going to be a triple-header of former Future Hits bands – London sludge outfit Slabdragger were forced to pull out of tonight’s show due to an injury in the band made it impossible for them to play. We still had Nottingham’s Bismuth on hand to open the show – and the duo’s brand of drone-soaked extended doomisms most certainly set the tone for the rest of the night’s proceedings. The already jam-packed upper room of the Black Heart was left reeling from them.
2) That’s right – the Black Heart was jam-packed. For a venue not ideally suited to gigs (flat floor, poor views, tiny door), the Black Heart has developed quite a rep for putting on the loudest and nastiest shows in this corner of North London. Sure, where it really excels is when it gets a musician like Scott Kelly experimenting with sound that benefits from intimacy rather than space to start moshpits, but the mostly sedentary, punishing nature of tonight’s bill works just as well in the cramped upper confines of a Camden drinking den. Tonight’s gig saw people being turned away at the door. However you care to slice it, that’s a bloody good sign.
Watch the video to ‘Street Labs’ by Opium Lord:
3) Opium Lord might’ve been born from the ashes of History of the Hawk, but they have nothing in common with their sonic progenitor. Gone is the angular yelping hardcore, and in comes the darkened, crusty, just-as-soon-as-piss-on-you-as-look-at-you metal. Nathan Coyle’s vocals sound positively hellish (in…errr…the best way possible) blasted through the small but impressively clear sound setup the venue has tonight. This is darkness served up in thick, bloody chunks.
4) You know what is an over-used phrase? We’re talking about stuff on a par with “epic” in the over-used-to-the-point-of-losing-any-real-meaning level of over-use. That phrase is “wall of sound”. It’s become shorthand for anyone lacking in synonyms for “loud”. It’s not a question of volume – it’s a question of density. The sound that Conan produce has that weight.
5) That’s because Conan do not muck about. They might keep their hoodies up all show, but that’s about as theatrical as they get. What Conan do – and what they do better than any other act stalking the British Isles right now – is deliver low-end, rumbling, bone-hurting riffs. This is why they are headlining a stage at Damnation Festival 2013. This is why they have been booked to play Roadburn in 2014. This is why they have been booked for Hellfest next year. This is why you should pick up a copy of their last album, Monnos, as soon as fucking possible.
6) When Conan go into the studio to record their next release (as they’re planning to do imminently), it surely must be a turning point for this band. Right now, Conan are a great band, but with the right record under their belts, Conan could be a great band that everyone knows about. If the sheer ease in which they conquered one small – and entirely sold-out – corner of North London can be translated to a wider audience…well…