Conan – Revengeance (Napalm Records)Wednesday, 27th January 2016
Pound-for-pound, or, should we say “decibel-for-decibel,” the UK’s Conan might be the heaviest band going. Now, being the heaviest doesn’t always mean you are the best. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re any good (see: Hellhammer circa 1983, who by all accounts, were the heaviest thing going, but were certifiably terrible). What it does mean, though, that ears will be wrecked, amps will be stacked upon one another, and the competition continues. Progression has always been a non-entity for this three-piece, but alas, on their third album Revengeance, there’s something for Conan to hang their hat on.
Really, these songs are mostly stuck in slo-mo, or low-gear or whatever is below the lowest gear. Conan, who in spite of the talents of drummer Rich Lewis, are still very fond of playing these ultra-dumb, barbaric sludge/doom songs, none of which can even take a whiffing glance at melody, or, dynamics for that matter. Thus, the over-the-top surge of “Throne of Fire” makes for some good spatial doom moments; you know, the type where one riff gets run through the wringer. It’s an even bigger endurance test via the album’s longer cuts, ala “Thunderhoof” (an apt title) “Wrath Gauntlet” and in particular, “Earthenguard.”
Yet what makes Conan at least mildly appealing, is that it’s clear they don’t even want to be appealing. Basically, they’re this era’s version of Hellhammer, just without the promise of future artistic glory. (Sans Cold Lake, of course.) But for a band to be so unabashedly bold and unflinching in the face of their obvious shortcomings…it’s a rare things these days. The ultra-brutal heaviness factor is what gives Revegeance the extra little push in the rating department; the rest is to be approached at your own peril.