Just caught this U.K. trio’s debut Toronto performance on the heels of Detroit’s Berserker Fest. Conan had been kicking around the British sludge scene for a few years before their breakout sophomore effort, 2014’s Blood Eagle on Napalm Records, and now, striking while the iron is hot, Revengeance comes out less than two years later. As you can expect from a band named after Conan, this is a barbaric, punishing effort, offsetting slow, heavy breakdowns with some jarring mid-tempo riffage.
“Throne of Fire” kicks off at a fairly brisk pace, with a downtuned, up-tempo attack akin to High on Fire, before dropping down to a knuckle-dragging crawler of a chorus. “Thunderhoof” is a much slower slog, nine-and-a-half minutes of bass-heavy bulldozing with shades of earlier Zoroaster and a bit of YOB thrown in for good measure. “Wrath Gauntlet” throws it down even lower and slower than its predecessors, a mighty instrumental rumble for nearly four minutes before turning towards a death march at the midway mark. The swirling guitar effects about five minutes in, along with the high-pitched vocals, once again bring YOB to mind.
The title track really picks up the pace with a barrage of black-metal drumming right from the get go before settling into a mid-paced hardcore stomp, easing off into some slo-mo breakdowns as they hit the backstretch. “Every Man is an Enemy” adopts a similar approach, another slow-to-mid-paced number reminiscent of YOB. Finally, the spacey, 12-minute epic “Earthenguard” brings this one to a close with some of the slowest, heaviest hitting riffs on the record. While the band’s influences here are obvious, it’s still a solid take on sludge metal.