Album Title: Mire
Label: Holy Roar Records
Date Of Release: 23 February 2018
Sludgy post-metal is not normally be top of my list. In fact, if I wanted to hear sludge, I’d take my young daughters out to the nearby countryside and let them play in the mud. But you’d have to have been living under a giant rock the size of Antarctica not to have heard the rumours and rumblings surrounding a young UK metal band by the name of Conjurer. Ever since the quartet surfaced around 2014, theirs has been a name on the lips of many fans of extreme metal.
With the release of their second EP ‘I’ in 2016, many aficionados of the underground began to wonder whether something special had been created. The wonderings were reserved and uttered in hush tones, almost not daring to say anything too loudly for fear of being let down. A strong touring ethic only served to heighten expectations further however, with gushing reviews of an intense and pulverising live show from many trusted sources.
And now we are presented with the debut full-length album, ‘Mire’, from Messrs Brady Deeprose (guitars/vocals), Dan Nightingale (guitars/vocals), Jan Krause (drums) and Conor Marshall (bass). Given the positivity generally surrounding this new band, I felt the need to check this one out, in spite of my usual tastes.
As always, I have tried to steer clear of other reviews, so that I can formulate my own opinions of this eagerly anticipated record. As such, what follows is a personal opinion, devoid of any outside influences. So, what do I think? Read on…
The first thing that struck me out of the gate when listening to ‘Mire’ for the first time was the riffs. I absolutely love the guitar – but that’s a given with heavy music, right? But when you have a deep-seated love for the six string instrument, the feeling I get when the seven songs start to work their riff-heavy magic, is actually quite profound.
‘Choke’ kicks off the album in a properly heavy and menacing manner. It doesn’t take long for the riffs to start and from the outset, they make their mark. Slow, lumbering and insanely heavy, they rumble and almost shake the foundations of not just my house, but almost the entirety of East Anglia. Savage gruff vocals join the fray to further increase the heaviness before an injection of pace really takes the song into an entirely new realm of extreme metal blastbeats and yet more bulldozing riffage. And yet, there is just a hint of accessibility here and there as the churning maelstrom develops to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.
I said earlier that my general knowledge of this kind of music wasn’t the best, but even so, I can hear some of the varied influences at play within ‘Mire’. I doubt I’m on my own when name-checking the likes of Gojira, Neurosis and the post-metal-isms of Cult of Luna. Given the dynamics at play and the incredibly mature-sounding songwriting, it would be remiss of this diehard prog head, not to doff his cap in recognition of a soupcon of progressive intent woven into the songs as well.
‘Hollow’ continues the album on a positive footing with the bass guitar of Conor Marshall coming into play wonderfully in both ‘heavier’ and ‘quieter’ modes. Then there’s the enormous chorus of sorts that carries with it an overwhelming power, juxtaposing nicely with those moments of quieter contemplation, so nicely placed for maximum effect.
However, if I had to say or be shot, I’d choose ‘Thankless’ as my current favourite track on ‘Mire’. It comes out hissing and snarling at the outset before settling into a superbly chunky riff and then, out of nowhere, we are greeted with some clean vocals that inject a little more melody into the song. Add to this the sheer variety within the song, which incorporates everything from clean, mellifluous guitar melodies and passages of gorgeous atmosphere to full-on extreme metal bludgeoning, and this is the track that really made me sit up and take full notice of ‘Mire’. I think this is the point where I type ‘wow’, because I can’t think of anything more eloquent to say at this point. Remember, this is Conjurer’s debut album.
Elsewhere, the positives just keep coming. ‘Retch’ is a short, sharp blitzkrieg of a song that has an almost punk-like devil-may-care attitude at times as it seeks to peel the skin from your face whilst slowing and unravelling towards the close.
The title track features a beautiful intro that is torn asunder in under a second by a maelstrom of pin-sharp drumming from Jan Krause and scything riffs from the duo of Nightingale and Deeprose. The subtle melodies that are cleverly intertwined within the overt brutality are a wonderfully elegant touch, whilst I also enjoy the vague black metal hints that creep into the song towards the end.
‘Of Flesh Weaker Than Ash’ is a masterstroke in dynamics and tension, as it slowly builds from very humble beginnings into a crushing affair, full of some of the meatiest and commanding riffs anywhere on the record. A further hint of melody just proves to me that these guys know that it isn’t all about melting faces at one hundred paces, whilst the way in which a valley of calm follows a crushing peak only to explode once again towards the finale, serves to create something almost anthemic.
The last word goes to ‘Hadal’, a beast that spends its eight-minute life in funeral doom-meets-epic-sludge territory thanks to a pace and heaviness that has my neighbours once again checking their seismographs for earthquake readings. If Suffolk wasn’t already a flat county, a couple of spins of ‘Hadal’ at decent volume and it is now.
It is a fittingly intense and monumental conclusion to an album that I am left a little stunned by. Not only have Conjurer delivered a crushingly excellent album, they have made me think long and hard about whether I actually do like this kind of metal more than I thought. In short, they have reinvigorated my desire to explore this genre a lot more. And all this from a young quartet, clearly older and more mature than their years suggest, via their debut album. If this is how good Conjurer sound at their first attempt, I can’t imagine how they’ll sound in a few years’ time. I’m looking forward to finding out though.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse