Conan : Blood Eagle

NPR527 Conan (2)The UK Doom scene is positively frothing at the moment. We may have lost Cathedral recently, but the likes of Electric Wizard and My Dying Bride are still flying the flag on an international scale. Doom, of course, is better suited to dark corners of backstreet pubs, and with zero appeal to the mainstream; that’s where you will mostly find it. From the dozens of UK doom-mongers making a rumble on the underground, Conan appear to be the ones to watch. With a record deal from Napalm Records, a UK (and beyond) tour lined up and appearances at the likes of Hellfest confirmed; Conan look to be the next band to break through into the wider consciousness.

They’ve caused quite a stir considering that the imminent ‘Blood Eagle’ will be just their second full-length album. Following on the from debut ‘Monnos’, Conan continue their path here with their relentless crushing rhythms. The Liverpool band cook up an atmosphere of desperate desolation. Punishing repetition and monolithic riffs steer them away from the stoner tag often lumped onto the doom scene. This is out and out heavy-as-fuck caveman battle doom.

‘Crown Of Talons’ starts it all off, and as you’d expect, it’s a long drawn out intro as the riffs slowly move into view and grow into some typical Conan goliaths. The ceremonial-like vocals eventually come calling and it seems that it’s business as usual for Conan.

To a great extent, this is business as usual. ‘Blood Eagle’ is instantly recognisable as Conan and that’s saying something in the sea of long-and-crushing doom records out there. This album does seem a little more refined however. Without compromising their unrushed and super-heavy credentials, this album seems a little slicker. Not in a bad or damaging way, it’s just a little improving touch, like giving a sloth a bit of Brylcreem . One or two of the songs here have a bit more momentum to them compared to the drone of ‘Monnos’.

‘Total Conquest’ has a neat touch embedded into it’s riffage. There’s a minimalist ‘Seek and Destroy’ tune in there somewhere and the lead single, ‘Foehammer’, ups the pace to a High On Fire style clatter nicely. It thunders along compared to most of the album until it wanes and dies like a weary beast.

Fear not, there’s plenty of lumbering doom still to come. Closing track, ‘Alter of Grief’, is a long drawn out effort that finishes off the album with a mighty shudder.

This is one hell of a purposely heavy album and leads the way in what is set up to be a vintage year for doom. If the fracking protestors of the northwest knew about Skyhammer studios, they’d be outside there in no time. If anything is going to trigger earthquakes then it’s ‘Blood Eagle’.