23rd February 2018 – Holy Roar Records
05. The Mire
06. Of Flesh Weaker Than Ash
In mid-2016, Conjurer came stomping out of the Midlands wearing a pair of lead-lined boots and clutching a bag of filthy, sludgey riffs in the form of debut EP I. After 18 months spent lumbering around the country and ripping the heads off unsuspecting crowds, they return with their first full-length, Mire. Hold on to something. Preferable something substantial. Maybe a Volvo.
Being given a broader canvas to paint on certainly hasn’t diluted Conjurer’s potency. Coming across like Deliverance-era Opeth and Aeolian-era The Ocean wrestling in a primordial tar pit, Mire doesn’t take any prisoners. Gut-churning slow grinding riffs, portentous atmospherics and the occasional spleen-bursting bout of acceleration pepper the seven tracks on offer here.
“Choke” kicks off at a positively glacial pace, before stepping on the gas and letting it rev all the way up to blast-beat territory – and as we know, nothing makes a slow heavy riff feel heavier than barreling towards it at break-neck speed. “Retch” pushes the tempo even higher before a slow-down as devastating as falling off a cliff. Splat. The ferocity of “Retch” is further heightened by following “Thankless“, probably the most restrained track on the album, which even features a couple of lines of clean singing.
There may only be seven tracks on Mire, but with just four of them spanning thirty minutes between them, there is no shortage of material. Importantly, there is an absolute glut of satisfying and meaty riffage. The two real stand-out tracks are amongst the longest; “Hollow“, mixing a chunky riff with atmospheric sections that remind me a little of Cubic Space Division, and triumphant album closer “Hadal“, which packs in more chugs than a particularly dangerous frat house party.
There are no weak links within Conjurer, but a particular strength that sets them apart from the pack is the guitar/vocal pairing of Dan Nightingale and Brady Deeprose. Between them, they wring improbably dense and filthy chords from their guitar necks, and their differently-pitched howls, screams and bellows add an extra layer to the thickness.
The album’s title track, weirdly, feels like the least memorable moment. With its blackgaze vibe, it struggles a little when standing alone, but makes a lot more sense in context with the rest of the album surrounding it. This, in turn, is an excellent illustration of just how well balanced and well paced Mire is.
As the music industry gradually rouses itself from its January hibernation, with Mire Conjurer have done the equivalent of riding over its alarm clock with a steamroller. It’s time to wake up and smell the riffs.