03 March 2014
Nostalgia is a soft-edged, sepia tinted arcadia that has increasingly been used by musicians to swerve listeners away from the rapid self-consumption of the metal world. For the less inspired, vapidly imitating the past rarely produces anything other than a cheap Instagram effect that lies on top of average music like an oil slick on water.
Then there are a pocket of bands who’ve built their sound from the bottom up. Conan have no doubt ground their Black Sabbath LPs down to the size of Polos from overuse. It’s not just the unwavering devotion to mastering the creeping riff, it’s the crusty backdrop that belies excellently inattentive production.
The opening riff of ‘Crown of Talons’ is the same 3 notes played over and over with such throwaway abandon that the arrival of bass and drums feels like a colossal advent. Like Black Sabbath, Conan know the charm of prolonged delivery and the weight of a single note. ‘Crown of Talons’’ may not quite match metal’s most famous bell-toll, but it carries a gravity that should be felt in every significant metal record dense with promise.
For all of you who’ve heard their split with Bongripper, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how Conan can convert one riff into a 17 minute epic. To paraphrase ex-Apprentice contestant Stuart Baggs, they’re not just a one trick pony. They’re not even a ten trick pony. They’re a pritt-stick factory of abhorrent heaviness. ‘Foehammer’ is practically a punk track by Conan’s standards, coming in at under 5 minutes and charging in with all the sadistic tunnel-vision and squealing fury of Converge with Jaz Coleman on vocals. It’s minimal without ever conveying simplicity, and so heavy but avoids the hours of tweaked production.
This album doesn’t rely on intricate song structures or zany riffing, and nor does it carry an overt message that we should spend hours debating in the comments of their Youtube page. The sheer, rutting weight of every song is a testament to the space around the musical components that gives force to every note.
Sounds Like: Black Sabbath, Killing Joke
Standout Tracks: Crown of Talons, Foehammer, Altar of Grief