Wednesday 12 February 2014

CONAN - BLOOD EAGLE - Album Review

Conan - Blood Eagle

Album Type:Album
Date Released: March 2014
Label: Napalm Records

Opening track listing:

1 - Crown Of Talons
2 - Total Conquest
3 - Foehammer
4 - Gravity Chasm
5 - Horns For Teeth
6 - Altar Of Grief


Conan are as heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth. A three piece, in the grand tradition of many amazing fabulous three pieces that hold a tight line and an iron-grip command over the uber-synchronised chord changes and tempo-shifts of the holy trio of bass, drums and guitar. Two men have the task of vocalising wretched thoughts over the turgid weight of Conan. They bear it well, for the task is immense.

Way back, in 2006, Conan formed as a two piece. The years dragged by, fellow warriors came and went, and now they are three – Jon Davis on guitar and vocals, Phil Coumbe on bass and vocals and Paul O’Neil on drums. Collectively their plans are clear: they seek nothing less than the crushing of a million skulls.

Hear the roar of battle. Smell the stench of split blood. A thousand heads piled high like a grim mound of suffering- a blasphemy to nature. Hail Conan!

The Band Members

Jon Davis - guitar / vocals
Paul O'Neil - drums
Phil Coumbe - bass / vocals


I think it's no great understatement to say that the release of this album has witnessed feverish anticipation around here. I don't know of many of this team who at some point in the last few months I haven't had in some way or another a conversation with about the new Conan stuff. They quite deservedly inked themselves a shiny new record deal with a well respected metal label, and recorded the effort in their box fresh new custom studio called Skyhammer. Their last album was a giant bruise coloured experience, and I mean that in only the absolute highest of regards. The benchmark has been set very high for 'Blood Eagle' to attempt to smash over the head with a clubbing blow, but does it have the brass to achieve it?

'Crown of Talons' is a great way to start off the record, and things quickly escalate from promising to noteworthy. That lead riff intro is pure unbridled doom bait, and I love it. As a band Conan quite regularly skip the foreplay and go for the jugular. Not many can go toe to toe with them for outright crush appeal. This might just be the best opening to a track that they have ever recorded, not only setting the tone for the rest of this song but the entire album as a whole. From the standpoint of a music fan at least the production is crisp too, every riff is warm and fuzzy yet distinct, every beat from small to bombastic is clear in the mix. Seems like that studio is gonna pay for itself soon enough (maximum kudos to Chris Fielding's recording efforts also). The end of the track is pure molten lava, all thick and relentless and heavy. And pretty much unstoppable. Not even Tommy Lee Jones could handle this bad boy (that was a Volcano reference, and I don't even care).

Special mention for the closing part of 'Total Conquest' too. Shout out to large riffs and the defence of supersizing things. My ears hurt.

For many of us 'Foehammer' was the first taste we had of 'Blood Eagle', it's use this past week to promote the upcoming release of the album has been widespread. A rarity in it's quicker pace, it nonetheless settles down to more skull compression eventually. The start of it will kick out the jams, but the rest of it is practically in reverse. And it just keeps getting more discordant and heavy too. If that bass was peanut butter it would be marketed as 'Extra Chunky Go Fuck Yourself, Kid'.

My favourite cut on here is without doubt 'Horns For Teeth'. The primary riff is the stuff of dreams, and then it changes in to something even better. And then again! It keeps adding layers of total badass, everything about this track rules. Even the vocals seem to peak here. They're tremendous throughout, so is everything else really, but some back alley accord with the horned dude downstairs must have been struck up to achieve this level of outright metal song crafting excellence. This is a juggernaut of concussive doom, a hate crime against amplifiers. Whatever they did to deserve this it must be justifiable.

Somewhere at the start of this I asked if 'Blood Eagle' had the nuts to stand up against the beast that was 'Monnos'. I firmly believe it surpasses even that greatness. With this album Conan have become one of the torch bearers for the modern UK generation of doom and even heavy metal in general. Clear a path, eat your vitamins and say your prayers - winged death is upon us.

Hail Conan.

Written by Matt Fitton

Blood Eagle’ will be available on Gatefold Vinyl, Digipack CD and Digital formats from Napalm Records from the dates below.

28/02/2014: G/A/S, FIN & Benelux
03/03/2014: UK & Rest of Europe
05/03/2014: ESP, SWE & NOR
11/03/2014: USA/CAN

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