Al’s Audio Guide to… #4: Conjurer!
Back for 2020, in the fourth installment of a new series we’ve got Weaponry vocalist Al Bristow to talk about some of the lesser lights of heaven in the Metal scene. You know, the ones who never got the credit they deserved?! Well… except this time out, when following on from InMe, Jamie Lenman & Reuben and Devil Sold His Soul he’s only gone and plucked Conjurer out of the magicians hat!
Releasing a debut album and having it listed on pretty much every single metal publications top lists of the year is not an easy feat, but something Conjurer were obviously destined to do the moment anybody heard the first 10 seconds of “Mire“. The opening song “Choke” starts with something that sounds like an animalistic wail and then a disgusting stab at down-tuned guitars with a thumping signal to wake up and bang your head from the drums. This warning signal alerts you for about 2 minutes with satanic and demonic screaming laying out the blueprint for this album. “Eyes sink, veins swell, inks smear across this battled face. In drowning these spirits, I have lost; they have won.” Then it kicks on and we get the album in full flow. The drumming from Jan Krause is incredible throughout the entire album. Every beat is pretty much perfect in the moment and what the song calls for and the production is excellent which is exactly what you expect from Lewis Johns at The Ranch Production House.
The fast pace of “Choke” does eventually die down into an atmospheric calm ending with bends from the guitar and sweet little riffs to lead you into the second song Hollow after exactly 6 minutes. The entire album only consists of 7 songs but the full piece clocks in at just under 44 minutes. The majority of songs are between 6 and 9 minutes long but Conjurer have a clever knack of making those minutes float by in seconds. They play with structures and seamlessly link heavy, crushing and brutal with soft, twinkly and emotional. Conjurer mainly mix elements of doom and sludge together but there’s definitely lots in there for the hardcore & death metal scenes. To be honest, if you like heavy, alternative music there will be something in there for you. These guys even played a show with Milk Teeth last year! And although there’s no pop punk here, there’s definitely a grunge feel that links those two bands.
The shortest song on the album is one of the heaviest. If you want your head pounded in by a snare drum then you just need the first second of “Retch“. This song is dark & gloomy and the riffs are catchy as hell. The fast paced opening and the switching of vocals from Dan Nightingale and Brady Deeprose into a slow, heavy, dread filled section really drags you in and makes this one of the stand out tracks – not that there are any bad songs on this album! If a slow builder is more your thing then you can’t go wrong with “Of Flesh Weaker Than Ash“. The members of Conjurer pride themselves on being music nerds and it really shows here. The main riff and the lyrics being screamed in tune is immediately memorable and its a great way to draw someone in who may never have heard their music before. There are a few points in this song where the bass of Conor Marshall comes to the forefront that’s similar to Tool and KoRn. They’re like mini interludes to give you a chance to breathe and they are used expertly, because there are more catchy parts for you to go nuts to later.
Talking of going nuts to them… If you don’t know much about Conjurer and this article doesn’t get you to look them up but you notice they are playing a festival you are at, for your own good, go and watch them! One of the most intense, astonishing and all around brilliant live bands in the UK right now. Before “Mire” came the EP “I“. It’s a great precursor and you can hear a lot of the ideas coming through that would eventually make up the sound of “Mire“. But with a band as good at song writing as Conjurer, this might just have been another time and place and the songs they wanted to write then. “Scorn” in particular would have fit on “Mire” quite easily and “Frail” could have at a push, where as “Behold the Swine” and “A Chasm Forged in Dread” and “Disarray” have a more upbeat feel to them with certain techniques being used that would definitely feel out of place on “Mire“. This all may just be hindsight talking but saying that, the EP is still a very good release and I’m glad it pushed Conjurer up the totem pole to help them in getting into the position where they could record and release the brilliant “Mire“.
Conjurer aren’t just slaying it when it comes to music either, the ideas they are coming up with are something metal desperately needs. Jamie Morgan from Code Orange said that he wants to keep releasing new material so Code Orange stay relevant similar to rappers releasing mix tapes between albums, and I think it’s a great idea. Conjurer have started doing similar things. They have got together with Holy Roar Records label mates Pijn to create “Curse These Metal Hands“. Originally an idea to perform as one band at ArcTanGent, they have now gone on to release a 4 track EP. It’s not as heavy but it’s still technically brilliant and each song is a well crafted piece of art. It’s like someone has taken all the doom and gloom out of Conjurer and turned up the technicality of the riffs a smidgen and added in some extra atmosphere. It is well worth your time. “High Spirits” is a fantastic opener for the EP to describe what this new side project is going to be about.
Conjurer have also recently released a 4 track split EP with none other than Palm Reader! They have both covered 2 songs and Conjurer have rather cleverly decided to cover “Vermilion” by Slipknot as one of theirs. For my money, you couldn’t think of many better suited songs for Conjurer to take a stab at and they did this song justice and then some. So in review since releasing “Mire“, Conjurer have now released “Curse These Metal Hands” with Pijn and the split with Palm Reader, which has definitely kept them relevant in the Metal scene. Couple that with the UK, European and American (World!?) tours, they are clearly not going anywhere soon. Bassist Conor Marshall has also just been announced as Sylosis‘ new bassist which might mean Conjurer will have to hold off on the gigs for a while, what with the new Sylosis album being announced. Hopefully this means it’s about time for Mire’s sequel. No pressure on the lads, but get this right and it has the potential to go down as a classic and top many record of the year lists, cementing Conjurer as a British heavyweight in the Metal scene!