01. Crown of Talos
02. Total Conquest
04. Gravity Chasm
05. Horns For Teeth
06. Altar of Grief
Doom. The word itself rumbles with a strange power. To speak the word ‘doom’ is to invoke the act, and bring doom to something somewhere – or at least that is what it feels like.
Conan are a doom metal band hailing from Liverpool. The band have already played Roadburn Festival twice in their young career, on the strength of their crushing debut album Monnos, and are now signed on to Napalm Records, who have released their second album Blood Eagle. There is clearly promise in the young doom trio.
Blood Eagle is packed full of heavy, crushing stoner doom riffs, sparse tribal drumming, and gravely shouting vocals. The opening track “Crown of Talos” is weighty enough, but feels fairly run-of-the-mill. It has a slow pace, a big riff that doesn’t really stand out much, and nothing else that really keeps it from treading the exact same path that so many others before it have trod. The final two minutes build up tension a bit, but that section is far too short and far too monotonous to really get anything interesting out of it.
“Total Conquest” remedies that with tense, heavy riffs, and drumming that actually varies the pattern, and there is even a tempo change in this song. It is far more interesting. Repetition is still present, but on here it is not over-used and is tolerable when it is used.
Blood Eagle is not all slow and steady, however. “Foehammer” is a fast, hammering groove with echoing vocals that sound like they are being hollered from the top of a stone hill.
The production is really good: the guitar tone is thick and roiling, like sludge oozing its way, bubbling, down a mountainside. There isn’t really any dynamic range here, but it isn’t a style that needs it. The drum sounds are mixed in really well, and the general atmosphere of the album is like a desolate dusty canyon on a strange alien planet, with a dying red sun looming in the sky; he band playing amongst the rocky crags, kicking up blood red dust around them and shouting their sparse lyrics to the horizons whilst below, brutal savages execute prisoners of war by blood eagle. Basically, it looks like a scene from Heavy Metal Magazine.
Lyrically, there really isn’t much on this album. “Foehammer” is merely a couple fantasy oriented line, and the longest song on the album is only two lines as well. “Horns For Teeth” has the most lyrics, but even there it is still only three stanzas. All that means the vocalists don’t have much to do, which is fine as it leaves them to focus more on playing the grooves and riffs, and maintaining that desolate atmosphere.
Blood Eagle is a solid stoner doom outing. The atmosphere is absolutely awesome, and for the most part the music composition manages to be good and interesting. It occasionally veers between “excellent” and “please play something else” but for the majority of the album, it is solid. The production is great, especially on the vocals. Conan are certainly getting a lot more attention in the stoner doom metal world, and that is only a good thing. If Monmos got them noticed, perhaps Blood Eagle can now elevate them to greater heights.
Best songs: “Foehammer” “Total Conquest” “Altar of Grief”