Starting with 'Hawk as Weapon' this album gets off to a magical, insanely heavy start. The guitar sound of Jon Davis is sheer ear-candy for the doom metal fanatic. The tone is wonderfully warm, rich and electrifying - the kind of sound that creates goose-bumps the second you hear it. The bass sound of Phil Coumbe is also thicker than molasses syrup and also has a wonderful tone while drummer Paul O’Neil supplies the perfect amounts of feeling and raw power. Without a doubt, Conan are the real deal, a complete outfit with incredible talent for nailing the right sound for a doom act. However, while the sound is amazing, (and I could based this entire review around just that) the songs themselves are equally as captivating. 'Hawk as Weapon' manages to blend nasty bottom end and down tuned riffs with incredibly infectious hooks that instantly drill their way into your skull and stay there long after the album has come to its ear-shattering conclusion and it is only the first tune. Some bands use all their ideas and strength's up in one song but thankfully, Conan are just brimming with passion and musical visions so this album never runs out of sheer excellence.
The second track, 'Battle in the Swamp' kicks off with a more straight-forward approach to riffing compared with the opening tune but it is equally as killer. It is based around another infectious groove and flourishes of melody. Conan are not a band that relies on plod and nothing else; in-fact this album is more mid-tempo than any kind of plodding dirge but the depressive doom edge is still here in all its gormandizing glory. At this point I feel I should use the Spinal Tap quote of - "these go to 11," because Conan really do push the excesses to the limit but somehow make it sound so very assessable. Coming in at track number three is 'Grom Tormentor,' the albums fastest track with a stunning bass intro from Coumbe. While it is the most speedy tune on 'Monnos it is also the most open. Taking cues maybe from the more proggish end of doom spectrum, this tune has the band taking an idea and pushing it in all directions to see where it might land. In the end it turns out to be a glorious track and again, insanely infectious in every detail.
The second half of 'Monnos' seems a little more adventurous than the first. Songs get increasingly longer and more complex. The first of these is 'Golden Axe' which if I had to name just one favorite, this would be it. This tune is more ambient and sprawling than the usual Conan material but in terms of atmosphere and arrangement, it is absolutely hypnotic. The second half of 'Monnos' is actually more sparse and more extreme-doom based than the first and it is like the band did this on purpose as each track seems to climb an extra notch on the heaviness scale. The closing two tracks of 'Headless Hunter' and the albums longest tune 'Invisible Throne' are simply monolithic beasts. 'Headless Hunter' is relentless with its thick sounds and tempos and it is not to you get to six minutes into the track that there is any sign of relief from the suffocating delivery. When the break does occur, it sets up the vibe for the albums closing epic, 'Invincible Throne' with another incredible dose of doomed riffing.
'Invincible Throne' has Conan at their most doom-laden. The track is a perfect finale to the album as it pushes the album to its definitive state of colossal doom awesomeness. While the track doesn't have the experimentation that say 'Golden Axe' has or the unrelenting riffing attack of the albums opening 'Hawk as Weapon' it has something equally as captivating and that is sheer power. This album is a fearless, adventurous, brave, valiant, intrepid statement from the band and it never shows any signs of hesitating throughout its 39:26 playing time. 'Monnos' is the kind of album that doom/sludge purists live for. Along with the magical warm and unrelenting heaviness of the guitar to the pulverizing drumming and thick bass work, not to mention some amazing vocals, - this is essential listening from start to finish....10/10.
Conan’s Official Website
Conan @ BandCamp
Burning World Records