Conan: Revengeance (Napalm Records)
In 2014 we reviewed Blood Eagle, the previous release from the Liverpool three piece and noted that it was “about as heavy as you can get, huge slabs of slow riffs and chanting vocals which oozes Sabbath and Electric Wizard throughout”. We warned you that “You may not want to listen to this in a confined space as there is a strong chance that your cranium might fracture”. Since then, there has been a pretty big change in the line-up with only Jon Davis on guitar and vocals remaining from that incarnation. In comes Chris Fielding on bass and Rich Lewis on drums. Although the line-up has changed, the absolute power and immense heaviness of the band hasn’t; in fact, it’s got heavier.
Throne Of Fire opens the proceedings, an absolute skull crusher with Davis’ fuzzed up distortion pulverising. The angst ridden distant vocals remain an acquired taste but be in no doubt that Conan really don’t give a fuck about what you think. Their one aim is to steam roller the listener with the most enormous riffs known to man. It’s not the easiest of albums to listen to. 47 minutes for six tracks. Yes, three of the songs rock in at over eight minutes long with the epic Earthernguard, the final track just under 12 minutes long. My suggestion? Put the damn thing on, crank the sucker up and allow Conan to blast the doom through your entire being. But be warned; with tracks like Thunderhoof and the title track (apparently a real word although this is circa 1913 – not quite the Repentless made up word scenario) kicking a hole in your skull, it’s not an easy listener. Another solid crushing release from the masters of UK doom. 7/10
Duel: Fears Of The Dead (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Austin, Texas appears to be the place to be for new releases. Hot on the heels of our review of fellow Austin outfit Widower, we now have Fears Of The Dead by four-piece outfit Duel. The band only formed last year and contain some former Scorpion Child members. Fears Of The Dead is a really infectious, groove laden slab of rock which straddles the doom, stoner and psychedelic genres. Opening track Fears Of The Dead contains some really dirty guitar riffs and has a disgustingly addictive hook with the vocals of Tom Frank fitting the sound perfectly. The track rocks along, with a dash of the mighty Clutch mixing to the potent combination of Sabbath, Pentagram, bits of Grand Funk and the duelling style of Thin Lizzy. Add a splash of Scorpion Child, The Sword and the vitality of Monster Truck and you’ve got the main ingredients of the Duel sound.
For a band who wear the badge of doom, they move at a significantly swifter pace; This Old Crow steals the opening riff from Wolfmother’s Woman before getting the toes tapping. Solid bass lines courtesy of Shaun Avants (who also provides some vocals) form the foundation with drummer JD Shadowz (real name, obvs) whilst Frank and Derek Halfmann’s guitar work swirls and weaves. The band stick with what they do best throughout, although The Kraken provides more of psychedelic stomp, whilst tracks such as On The Edge and Electricity all surge (sorry) with hooks and groove. Penultimate tune When The Pigs Are Fed merges some classic Sabbath riffs with the more recent work of The Sword and really get you wanting to see these guys live. Whilst there is no point reinventing the wheel, Duel have forced me to add another band to the ‘must see’ list. A sweet piece of work indeed. 8/10
Exekuter: The Obscene Ones (EBM Records)
Formed in 2008 out of the ashes of Cryptic Realm, Greek thrashers Exekuter (not to be confused with Brazilian thrash outfit Executer) kick out their second full length release in the shape of The Obscene Ones; 33 minutes of unashamed old school thrash with all the trappings expected – songs about death, blasphemy, anti-religion and the devil. Combining elements of virtually every thrash outfit who have ever lived, but with heavy leanings toward the faster Kreator style thrash, this is a release that every discerning thrash fan should consider picking up. Brutal powerhouse drumming, cascading riffs and screaming solos and a vocal delivery from Tolis Mekras that combines an unusual number of styles to fit superbly. Tracks such as No Morals attack from the start with manic speed and a Pleasure To Kill type riff, whilst there are also some more balanced tracks which contain classic thrash edged stomping; see Secrets Of A Divine and Obsessed for starters. Obsessed is a blistering track, opening with a massive chug before developing into top gear to deliver thrash following the genre blueprint complete with slowed down middle section and driving blast beats which push the band towards death metal at times. If you love your 1980s thrash, then you really need to listen to this release. It’s old skool all the way. Really retro but great stuff! 8/10