Welcome to the seventh instalment of my annual labour of love, otherwise known as my end-of-year top 30 countdown. I always find it incredible just how quickly this series gathers pace and flies past in a blur of great music, punctuated by the usual Christmas-related festivities. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.
Today, in an effort to keep the momentum going, I’m not going to indulge in a huge long intro. Instead, I’m just going to get straight on with things.
However, all I will say is that I thrive on your comments and interaction, so please feel free to tell me exactly what you think of my choices as I go through this series. And, if you’ve missed the previous picks in this series so far, links to these can be found at the bottom of this post.
And with that, here comes the next pick…
Holy Roar Records
Score of Much Metal: 9.5
Today’s choice is another one of those lovely surprises that presented itself early in the year. If you’d have said that a band with sludgy post-metal influences would feature within my final 30 of 2018, I’d have raised a quizzical eyebrow and probably then dismissed your words as the incoherent babbling of a madman. But that’s exactly what happened. And, actually, the longer the year has gone on, the more certain I have become that this record would feature strongly.
The main reason is that this young UK-based band gave me cause to reconsider my general views over a subgenre that I often tend to dismiss without hearing a note. On this occasion, a few positive noises were enough for me to take the plunge and I have never regretted my decision.
For a start, this is one heavy and uncompromising record. It is muscular, forthright and hugely powerful. But it is also a surprisingly nuanced and subtle record in terms of some of the influences that appear within the seven compositions. Conjurer like to make an unholy racket but, the more you listen, the more you realise that the intense soundscapes are littered with clever ideas, many of which are borrowed from other subgenres of metal and indeed, the wider musical spectrum.
With a sophistication and a nous that belies their tender years, ‘Mire’ is the kind of record that should appeal to a wide audience and it sets the bar unbelievably high for when writing starts on their sophomore release, which I’m already eagerly anticipating.
To quote my review of 17 February 2018:
“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.
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.
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.”
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: