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When CONJURER unleashed their debut LP Mire in 2018, the heavy metal collective paid attention. Their potent concoction of sludge, death, doom, black metal and hardcore was hard to ignore and the record was a staple on year-end lists. They were quickly heralded as one of Britain’s best young bands and were snapped up by the legendary Nuclear Blast, where they sit on the same roster as metal legends such as SLAYER, MACHINE HEAD and PARADISE LOST. Five years on, and with anticipation reaching fever pitch, Páthos is finally – mercifully – here.
The singles that have been released revealed a less riffy iteration of the band, however they felt much more fleshed out in other areas. As a result, Páthos is a fantastically multi-faceted record that will scratch any itch you have when it comes to metal. It broaches topics of anxiety, fear, loss and the afterlife – fittingly heavy subjects for a band that knows a thing or two about getting sonically heavy. These topics also lend themselves perfectly to moments of beauty and album opener It Dwells highlights everything that CONJURER now bring to the table. When it was unveiled as the lead single for the record, its cleaner melodies and more complex tones and structures showed incredible growth. Many fans will have played it ad infinitum just to get a hit of this fine band, but hearing it in the context of the record, and as a precursor for all that follows, the song has taken on a whole new lease on life.
As much as CONJURER deserve all the plaudits for expanding their sound and their sonic universe, their heavier side cannot be ignored. Suffer Alone is a fast and frenetic thrill ride that zips by in a shade under three-minutes, but packs as much barbarity in as a track three times its length. In Your Wake contains possibly the most potent riff on Páthos and carries with it a terrible majesty that is as arresting as it is horrifying. The heaviness comes to a head though on Basilisk, culminating in a final 45 seconds that are utterly apocalyptic, complete with tension drone to give it that rotten cherry on top of this bleak and brutal sundae. This is a breakdown that will stop you in its tracks. Scratch that – this is a breakdown that could stop planetary rotation. Breathtaking, vacuum-creating heft that deserves to be a defining moment of their live shows and their career to date.
The album ends with Cracks In The Pyre, which is an incredibly tender number that ponders death and what comes next. It is heaped with emotion and picks away at you until you feel nothing more than a raw nerve. It’s an element of CONJURER‘s sound that has been touched upon in their prior work, such as on Frail from the debut EP I, but they’ve clearly taken notes from their long-time friends and Curse These Metal Hands collaborators PIJN to sharpen and refine this into something genuinely affecting. As CONJURER are wont to do, the song does explode into one final cathartic outburst but this remains spectacularly representative of the emotional journey one goes on through loss and tragedy; it rounds out Páthos with one final meaty flourish for a combination that will live on in you long after this album ends.
On a personal level, every member has thrown down the gauntlet and pushed themselves to deliver an astounding record. Jan Krause‘s drumming goes off like heavy artillery, hitting technical highs that are mind blowing in scope and proficiency. The bass lines courtesy of Conor Marshall keep the thunder continuously rolling and add an evil, malevolent tinge to it all. And let’s talk about vocals: just from one full-length and one EP, CONJURER have characterised themselves as having some of the most formidable vox on the scene today, courtesy of vocalists/guitarists Dan Nightingale and Brady Deeprose. On Páthos, this dual approach remains one of the most fearsome and impressive elements of their stellar all-round performance, and only soars higher with Nightingale‘s cleaner additions.
Mire set the bar ridiculously high, and yet CONJURER have leapt over it with ease. This is a staggering piece of art that will once again land the four-piece on end of year lists and cement them as one of Britain’s most promising bands. There can be no doubt that they will soon be headlining the world’s biggest metal festivals, but more than that, they’ve established a trajectory that could see them soon thought of as this generation’s NEUROSIS or GOJIRA. This is a band of generational talent. Get on board now if not already so you can one day say, ‘I remember when…’
Páthos is set for release on July 1st via Nuclear Blast Records.
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