Liverpool based stoner doom trio Conan first started making a name for themselves between 2007 and 2010 when they released two EPs and a demo, all of them featuring their songs Krull and Satsumo as well as some material exclusive to those releases.
Conan’s uncompromising brand of doom that crushes the listener with a megaton of fuzzy, droning guitars and a claustrophobic atmosphere, painting pictures of grim battles for life and death brought them a lot of attention at first, but the band decided to expand their sound on their albums as they started to embrace sludge influences that replaced the drone elements of their early releases.
The band continues to persue a more sludge oriented and active sound on their latest release, Revengeance, which constitutes their third full-length album and delivers some of their fastest material to date, such as the opener and the title track. Among the first things that I noticed the changes in production and sound that the band went for on this album were the most prominent. Everything feels less upfront, the guitars are still fuzzy, but not as heavy as they were on previous releases and the production feels too clean for the sound that they’re going for. The songwriting also feels lacking and, I know that I’m saying this about a doom record, but the songs feel repetitive in a way that fails to keep my attention.
Especially early on the sheer sound of the band was enough to keep me listening. Even as the band turned away from the sound they presented on their debut releases, the songwriting, little adjustments and changes were interesting enough to make up for the parts that they chose to phase out. Having a background vocalist from Monnos onward, for example, was a great addition to their sound. Phil Coumbe and Jon Davis made for a very nicely synced duo at the front. On Revengeance, however, it feels like the voices are fighting for the spotlight and Chris Fielding’s vocals aren’t as good of a support for Davis. Mostly alternating between the two vocalists instead of having them build a single voice together also wasn’t a good decision in my eyes, since that was one of the strong points of their previous releases.
Another, minor gripe that I have with this album is that the lyrics often feel a little bit uninspired and overly repetitive. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this release to a certain extent though. Despite my criticism for the album, songs like the title track are still entertaining to listen to. There’s drive, there’s power, there’s fuzz and there’s doom, just not as much as there used to be. If the rest of the album would’ve been a bit more like this track, I certainly would’ve enjoyed it more. Conan showed it in the past and this song just confirms it: They have what it takes to write faster doom songs that retain the characteristics of the genre and back it up with groove driven songwriting that makes for a very enjoyable listen.
Overall, Revengeance is a solid album and I’m sure that most fans will be pleased with it, but if you find yourself in the same position as I do, you probably won’t be too big on this one.