Blood and Crom: talking Conan with Jon Davis

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January saw the unleashing of the new Conan album Revengeance, a leviathan in barbarous weight and corrosive intensity which outshone its equally punishing and exhilarating predecessor of 2014, Blood Eagle. Let off the leash via Napalm Records, Revengeance is a callous incitement making a big statement in the landscape of modern doom metal. Given the opportunity to get into the heart of the album, we probed guitarist Jon Davis to find out about its creation, the background of the band, the state of doom metal right now and more…

Hi Jon and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Before we dive into new album Revengeance, can you give us some background to the beginnings of Conan back in 2006?

We started as a two piece, fucked around for a while and then decided to make ourselves into a 3 piece.

Is the band still driven by the same intent and inspirations as when it started out or have they shifted over the past decade?

Yes of course. We’re just a band who likes to play as many shows as possible and get out on the road. We may play bigger stages but we still think the same way we did back when we started touring.

You have just released third album Revengeance, a beast of an infestation and rousing of the senses. Where do you see the band sound wise in comparison to debut full-length Monnos of four years ago and where has your music evolved most potently for you over releases?

I think our sound is still pretty much the same, a three piece of drums guitar and bass, but the songs themselves have become slightly more intricate; more interesting and heavier. We use dynamics to greater effect, and are able to do a little more than the simple ‘slow and low’ that we used to do. Over each release a band should get better at what they do and I think we are achieving that.

Obviously your songs often have seeds in the tales of the band’s namesake but otherwise do the same themes inspire your music now as back then or has that expanded as experiences have?

Our themes are pretty much the same; we don’t want to change our vibe at all as we move forward. Our songs might become more musically diverse but our themes will always be pretty much the same

636_Conan_RGB_RingMaster ReviewDid you go into the writing of Revengeance with any specific direction or premeditated exploration in mind?

Not really no, we wanted to write a better album than Blood Eagle and Monnos but aside from that we didn’t try and steer ourselves in any particular direction. We just got in the practice room and wrote songs as they came along, really naturally; it was cool.

As shown by the new album alone, there is a depth of diversity to your brutal doom propositions working away as potently as the carnivorous surface confrontation. Is there a fine balance you have to find to create that compelling union of callous intensity and groove infested rabidity?

I think we have always had a certain groove to our music. We have always mixed that with pretty simple brutal riffs and drums that carry the riff along in a slightly more ‘groovy’ (not 60’s) way.

Did you approach the actual recording of Revengeance the same way as its acclaimed predecessor Blood Eagle of 2014?

Yeah, exactly the same…Chris Fielding (now on bass / vocals) produced it at our studio (Skyhammer Studio) and we had a great time. This was the same set up as Blood Eagle, but of course Chris and Rich had joined in place of Phil and Paul.

Was it a release which continued to grow and develop at the recording stage or are you a band which likes to go into the studio with songs finished and ready to go?

We always get to the recording phase with the songs ‘almost’ ready. This was no different. There will always be a degree of change during the recording process and we kind of like that as we can go with the flow and maybe improvise a little bit during the writing process

There is a raw energy and that uncharitable intensity which feels like being physically there in the face of the Conan storm and assault; was the album set down with live takes and how does the writing process work within Conan?

The writing process usually consists of me working out some riffs and showing the guys. We will then all get together in the practice room and work through the song ideas and riffs and create the songs. The album was recorded the same way as usual really. Drums were done live with me playing a guide guitar track. Then guitars were recorded over the drum takes and the same with bass and then vocals at the end.

Do you test new songs out on the road first before committing them to record?

On this album we played Thunderhoof live a few times and that felt good, but the other tracks didn’t get played live before the recording.

When you played it, how did you gauge reactions? Obviously fans are more than likely to react positively to anything offered live so where do you look for key signs if something new is working?conan1_RingMaster Review

With Thunderhoof people seemed to like it but we noticed they really liked the songs like Horns for Teeth and Foehammer off Blood Eagle; I guess our writing style went in that direction once or twice on Revengeance.

There seems to be a new rich wave of emerging bands within the doom landscape, how are you seeing it from the inside as one of those increasingly driving the scene for the past decade?

Most of them aren’t ‘doom’…… You will see heavy bands, but why can’t they just call themselves ‘heavy metal’? We adopted up our own ‘Caveman Battle Doom’ thing as a joke after our first ever show called us that, but we don’t take that seriously. There are lots of great HEAVY bands out there though, but they aren’t necessarily doom…

The UK and European doom landscape is at its strongest to date though would you say?

I guess so. Those bands that are actually playing music that resembles doom do it very well – Serpent Venom, Coltsblood etc. There are lots of cool bands currently; it’s a good time to be alive.

What is next for Conan as 2016 develops? You have some live dates I believe coming up?

Yeah, we are touring the US in March and then the rest of 2016 we have lots of live shows and festivals. We love to tour.

Once more, our big thanks Jon for sharing your time with us. Any last thoughts you would like to add?

Cheers, thanks for reading.

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own creative life.

Slomatics’ Flooding The Weir and everything that followed it.

http://www.hailconan.com/    https://www.facebook.com/conandoom/

Read our review of Revengeance @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/conan-revengeance/

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Conan – Revengeance

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Photo credit: Matt Thomas

Crushing and suffocating as it corrodes the senses, the new album from doomsters Conan is set to be one of if not THE most primal trespass on body and soul heard this year. It will certainly take something leviathan in heaviness and emotional destruction to surpass the barbarous weight and intensity of Revengeance, and that a discovery only possible if ears survive and recover from the British band’s latest impressive devouring.

Formed around the time 2006 became its successor, the then two-piece was soon a merciless scourge of sound and intent, proof coming with debut EP Battle in the Swamp in 2007. Since then a pair of albums in Monnos (2012) and Blood Eagle (2014), surrounded by a couple of split releases as well as a further EP and a live album, have all added intensive heft and stature to the band’s presence and a perpetual luring of acclaim. Now with the declaration of many as being the band’s heaviest proposal yet and loaded with songs seeded in video games, retro sword and sorcery movies, and ancient battle scenes, Revengeance sees Conan take their uncharitable and infectiously toxic sound to the listener with rawer strength and callous intensity aligned to groove fuelled rabidity.

The album opens up with the seriously bruising rock ‘n’ roll of Throne of Fire, the track immediately bounding with sinew driven urgency through ears. The beats of drummer Rich Lewis land like sledgehammers as the bass of Chris Fielding intimidatingly prowls with venomous intent, both matched in hostile tenacity by the scuzzy groove spilling guitar of Jon Davis. With his and Fielding’s vocals united in antagonistic temptation and bearish presentation too, the track is a riotous onslaught prone to fluid slips into festering sludge hued examinations of the senses.

636_Conan_RGB_RingMaster ReviewIt is a gripping and punishing start to the release continued by the compassionless incitement of Thunderhoof. In excess of nine minutes, the track gravitates towards the senses and emotions with bestial predation bred in an asphyxiating mass of sound and intent. The two prong vocal violation again is a commanding coaxing into the carnal heart of the encounter, rhythms prowling that centre with cold-blooded efficiency and dexterity as Davis’ guitar casts its violation of noise, a sonic despoiling as infectious as it is abusive.

Two tracks in and it is already hard to bring to mind a doom infested offering as ruinously resonating and enthralling; Wrath Gauntlet backing up that thought in expected but refreshing style. Sonically smothering the senses from its first breath, the track is the collapse of light and hope; how you might expect the heart of a black hole to be with at times the matching impression of no survival. Within it though, searing enterprise and unpredictable scythes of animosity rear their appealing head, as throughout the release, giving what on the surface may seem like similarly pestilential walls of noise drama to that around them, their own individual character.

The album’s title track uncages its scarring sonic fury next with, in tandem, rhythms a rebelliously concentrated bullying. It is a ravenous affair, an unbridled tempest of sonic carnality savaging the body as a web of deliciously invasive grooves inspires its eager involvement. Erupting in ruthless contagion, the track is a slash-and-burn consumption as caustically vicious as it is addictively invigorating and more than matched by Every Man Is an Enemy and its own virulently swinging infestation of ears and emotions. Neck muscles are as insatiably tested as the senses, its lumbering yet openly catchy enmity of sound and spirit, a warring beast of noise and viciousness.

The closing Earthenguard begins with a ‘light’ climate but is soon choking the listener in its damning nature and pitiless depleting of the senses. There is no escaping its insidious drone or the numbing of ears and emotions, except to turn it off and that is an inclination which never raises its head. Arguably less dynamic than its predecessors but certainly as inhospitable and pleasing, the song makes a fine end to a dangerously compelling release.

The reality of it all is that the rest of the doom metal scene has been given a benchmark by Conan for 2016; time will tell if they are up to the challenge laid down.

Revengeance is available from January 29th via Napalm Records on CD, vinyl and as a digital download.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

09.04.16 UK – Leeds / Ritual Festival

30.04.16 UK – London / Desertfest

28.05.16 UK – Southampton / Annihilation Festival

http://www.hailconan.com/    https://www.facebook.com/conandoom/

Pete RingMaster 28/01/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Conan – Blood Eagle

 

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    Conan’s second album Blood Eagle parades all the musculature and primal intensity you would expect from their literary namesake, its body a rippling drone tempest of doom dressed metal. The new six track leviathan from the band sculpts the heaviest ravenous riffs and ruggedly intimidatingly rhythms, aspects expected from the band after the casting of their debut album back in 2012, but brings it under a swamp of brutal oppressiveness and voracious atmospheres which sees the band at its most destructively creative yet. It is an album which tests and seduces the listener simultaneously, leaving emotions exhausted and satisfaction bloated.

     Formed in 2006 as a duo, Conan has seen numerous line-up changes across the subsequent years but it is fair to say that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe, and drummer Paul O’Neil has driven the band to its most impacting and vicious adventures as evidenced upon Blood Eagle. The band has persistently barged and demanded attention through their releases, the Horseback Battle Hammer EP of 2010 and that first album Monnos two years later notable onslaughts, whilst splits with Slomatics and Bongripper in 2011 and 2013 respectively, has only increased the presence, and certainly in the latter, the expectations of their second full-length. Released via Napalm Records and as their previous album Chris Fielding produced, Blood Eagle certainly feeds those needs and more, its battle field of sludge tarred monolithic riffs and threateningly captivating rhythms aligned to an exceptional dual vocal provocation, dangerously irresistible and ruinously enthralling.

    The initial breath of first track Crown of Talons instantly offers an intimidating presence, the near on ten minute journey NPR527 Conanthrough cavernous climes and thick textures not exactly laboured in its emergence but certainly taking its menacing time to envelop the senses. Riffs slowly entwine around the ears securing a ready submission to their bait before darkening and intensifying their immersive swamp of sound with firm rhythms punctuating every evolving twist and corner of the journey. As leaden and bulky as a mountain bred avalanche but with the centuries worth of patience within any kind of erosion, the track is a mesmeric pestilential consumption, an insidious rapture which simply seduces from start to finish.

    Its successor Total Conquest brings an even greater intimidating predation to its structure and touch, an almost visceral essence coating its every moment whether again smothering the senses with a steady trudge or raising its energy to scavenge with forceful voracity. The gruff vocals equally gain a richer growl and seeming impatience to accentuate the threat whilst rhythmically the track deceives with a hypnotically irresistible contagion which leads the listener further into the jaws of the ravaging.

    Foehammer is next to abrase and snarl against the ears, its excellent vocal offering an anthemic call within the less welcoming barbarous scourge of sound, both elements insatiably magnetic even with the bestially harsh and intensively weighted squall of the track around them. The shortest slab of ferocity on the release it leaves just as many lingering agreeable scars before the excellent Gravity Chasm unleashes its particular venomous waltz of exhaustive severity and vehemence. There is a swing and groove to the provocation which simply traps the passions, taking them on a hellacious dance of primal intensity aligned to captivating vocal rapacity, before throwing them to the always waiting carnivorous appetite of the behemoth sound. The best track on the album is followed by the masterful and enthralling heavy hum of Horns for Teeth, the track another to skilfully merge a catchy swagger and infection into a suffocating drone sculpted canvas of doom incitement. It is a glorious sonic dreadnought with a tempestuous suasion rivalling its predecessor for that top beast honour.

     The album is completed by the transfixing Altar of Grief; an almost shamanic rhythmic coaxing setting things off whilst being courted by a distorted nagging sonic drone. The entrance of the track infests and infects with impossible ease paving the way for the corrosive squall of sound that washes over and permeates every thought and emotion. Like the first song it is a demanding and unrelenting pillaging of the body, content to strip the senses layer by layer with its slow sandblast as it brings Blood Eagle to an immense conclusion. Conan makes you suffer and face multiple trials to get to the heart of its releases but as here the rewards are constantly worth every wound and scar.

Upcoming Conan Tour Dates:

14.03.14 UK – Nottingham / Stuck On A Name Studio

15.03.14 UK – Bournemouth / The Anvil

16.03.14 UK – Birmingham / The Asylum 2

17.03.14 UK – Glasgow / Audio

19.03.14 UK – Manchester / Kraak Gallery

20.03.14 UK – Cardiff / Full Moon

21.03.14 UK – Brighton / The Prince Albert

22.03.14 UK – London / Electrowerkz

09.04.14 BE – Liège / le Hangar

10.04.14 NL – Tilburg / Roadburn Festival

11.04.14 DE – Würzburg / Cafe Cairo

12.04.14 DE – Leipzig / Doom Over Leipzig

13.04.14 DK – Copenhagen / KB18

14.04.14 NO – Oslo / Revolver

16.04.14 FI – Jÿvaskÿla / Lutakko

17.04.14 FI – Helsinki / Kuudes Linja

18.04.14 FI – Tampere / Klubi

19.04.14 FI – Oulu / Nuclear NightClub

21.04.14 SE – Stockholm / tba

22.04.14 SE – Lund / Hemgarden

23.04.14 DE – Berlin / Jaegerklause

24.04.14 DE – Wiesbaden / Kulturpalast

25.04.14 NL – Groningen / Vera

26.04.14 DE – Hamburg / Droneburg Festival

27.04.14 DE – Cologne / Underground

21.06.14 FR – Clisson / Hellfest

http://www.hailconan.com/

9/10

RingMaster 04/03/2014

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