PICK OF THE WEEK: Conan ravage through smothering, immersive fire on ‘Evidence of Immortality’

Heaviness is a major reason we’re here, which is ridiculous to even say because it’s the main modifier for the genre name. There are plenty of different ways to make music weighty and feeling like it’s situated dangerously on your chest, like trying to breathe with a planet on top of you. That massive power is so much of what makes this music appealing and addictive.

UK doom trio Conan practically have defined what heavy means to doom metal, something they’ve strived to perfect over the past decade and a half. On their massive fifth record “Evidence of Immortality,” the band—guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, bassist Chris Fielding, drummer Johnny King—mauls you fiercely and lulls you into dreams you can’t escape, and they’ve been incredibly consistent their entire run. The six tracks on this new experience keep that vibe in place, yet they branch out a little more, add extra gasps of atmosphere into the room, and on the adventurous and dour closer, put you in a more somber mind frame than usual. It’s another Conan record that grasps your attention right away, puts you through the ringer, and let’s you bask in a different, more seductive shade of darkness.  

“A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots” is the 10:23-long opener, and it hangs in a storm cloud before it begins to drub with power. Davis’ wailed vocals cut into your brain as the band pounds away, scuffing and bruising, slowly turning up the heat. The pace crushes as the colors splash over the earth, the howls reach into the stratosphere, and the drums decimate as the track melts away. “Levitation Hoax” lights up right away and the drums decimate, the vocals wrenching before group howls penetrate. There’s a vicious call-and-response section that jolts, and psychedelic clouds mar your vision. The riffs light up as the playing gets burlier, clobbering and dissolving into cosmic pressure. “Ritual of Anonymity” delivers smearing riffs as the pace picks up and bruises before unexpected speed ruptures and cuts into your flesh. Davis’ vocals dent your skull, the playing sprawls with power, and wills are destroyed, brawling and opening wounds as the guitars leave permanent scars.

“Equilibrium of Mankind” starts by landing heavy body blows as the guitars begin to agitate and even soar toward higher grounds. “Raise up your swords,” Davis demands as the track takes on a heavy Sabbath vibe, rambling into swaggering heat as the guitars spit fire. The playing smokes as the world comes unglued, bleeding out into a permanent grave. “Righteous Alliance” lets loose as a guitar haze spreads across the sky, dragging darkening shadows along with it. The vocals carve away as the bruising gets darker, and Davis switches over to a deep howl that refuses to release its grip. Sounds sizzle as cosmic fire rockets through the atmosphere, and then the slow crushing returns, laying in punches that splatter to the end. Closer “Grief Sequence” is a funereal 14:50-long instrumental that is unlike anything else in Conan’s catalog, and it demands your attention and keeps it through the duration. Feedback washes as spiraling organs slither, the guitar work flexes, and things turn spooky for a stretch, sending chills down your spine. The track then pierces into a psychotic dream, feeling raucous and spacey, swimming in worlds eons away, and everything blasts into slurry weirdness that swallows you whole.

Conan remain one of the most interesting and heavy bands in doom metal, and “Evidence of Immortality” stands on its own in their history and sits perfectly along the rest of their catalog. There are new folds and flavors mixed into their bludgeoning recipe, and this record is a punishing treat from beginning to end. Everything here leaves you sore, discolored, and pushed to your limits, and the excursion you’ve taken definitely challenges but ultimately is a doom-fired venture that leaves you breathing fiery new life.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/hailconan

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/pre-orders.html

Or here: https://napalmrecords.com/deutsch/?SID=91hk6fc736toptcqukf3e9145h

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords/