Doom is a purer concept than fear; less flighty and transcendent – you can’t grow out of it or out-run it – it’s all about finality. That purity of concept and simplicity is translated into the achingly slow and strident output of doom titans Conan.
The word doom itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘dōm’ for law or judgement. In the metal sense, it was codified by Black Sabbath with the dreaded first chords of Black Sabbath and the caustic darkness of Master of Reality. Liverpudlians Conan continue the lineage of great British bands on their latest long-player Monnos.
The atmosphere on Monnos is one of unremitting gloom; reflecting the sparse landscape depicted on the album’s cover. The guitar tone is so low and thick sounding almost like a dying growl and, when combined with the bass and drums rumbling back and forth transmits the inevitability of Conan’s inescapable negativity from opener Hawk As Weapon through to closer Invincible Throne.
The songs are crushing in their use of repetition, Battle in the Swamp nods with a heavily narcotic thrum while Grim Tormentor lives up to its title through its bloody minded power and use of scarified feedback. Elsewhere Headless Hunter shakes the castle walls with an immense glacial riff accented by precise cymbal hits from Paul O’Neil.
This sound is tempered by glints of glaring sunlight like on instrumental track Golden Axe that, while conjuring up thoughts of a cold, biting wind on an inescapably bright day slowly eroding a monument to a long forgotten idol, manages to vary the attack with it’s isolated opening guitar figure and muted percussion. Monnos is that intense and that’s just when considering the music – the lyrics are equally heavy. On Hawk As Weapon vocalist and guitarist Jon Davis sings with anguish that; “These skies are dead. They will destroy. Descending threat”.
Conan are slowly (how else) inching towards something very special and Monnos is the latest stone in their passageway to greatness. Don’t be a fool by missing out on this record.