Conclave – Dawn of Days (Argonauta Records)

Thursday, 6th May 2021
Rating: 9/10

In the five-year interim between full-lengths, Conclave have undergone a lineup change with second guitarist Terry Savastano leaving, acquiring Chris Giguere and signing with overseas label Argonauta Records for this second album Dawn of Days. With members possessing proper knowledge and experience in other acts from thrash to death to extreme metal beyond the band’s doom/sludge/stoner metal comfort zone, you can expect through these five tracks a deeper dive into those crevices and aspects that allow the quartet to be quite heavy, moody, and solidly entrenched in the metal landscape.

The little things make a bigger aural impact for long-term retention. The pirate-like ‘woah – oh – oh’ background vocals that creep in here and there for the opening eight-minute plus doom-driven title cut, and guttural Celtic Frost-like warble plus plaintive screams from bassist Jerry Orne and guitarist Jeremy Kibort against some crunchy, Sabbath-esque riffs during “Haggard” two standout moments of many people can pinpoint as distinctive earworms. Danger lurks when stuck in one specific gear tempo-wise – fortunate for these musicians, drummer Dan Blomquist knows when to inject a bit of energy or proper swing/transition abilities into the proceedings. He hits the right groove mechanics during the circular tremolo guitar picking for “Death Blows Cold” and fuels the following measure with double bass glory to hammer home the headbanging proceedings. Calmer introspective picking sets up the nine-minute “Thrown on Spikes” – a doom/death-like outing that would appease those who love Sleep, My Dying Bride, and Paradise Lost, some of the low tone, grinding twists sure to drain listeners who need that aural catharsis on a miserable day. Where Conclave also succeeds is keeping this record clocking in at a relatively short forty-five minutes – the quality and information to consume and process just enough to leave you wanting more. Chris and Jeremy when given the space to perform lead breaks do not go frantic or crazy – setting the pieces up with melodic swirls and wah-wah/effects enhancement that serve the needs of each track on hand.

Dawn of Days allows Conclave to take decades of music appreciation and metal experience to unleash a mammoth platter – especially for those who love multiple genres siphoned down into the essence of what doom, sludge, and stoner metal should be about: the strength of songwriting captured on the floor and pressed to vinyl, tape, CD, or your preferred listening medium.

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