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/

RingMaster Review

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For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

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

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/