Conan – “Existential Void Guardian” (Napalm Records)
Uh oh – ouch time. England’s answer to Crowbar in the wrecking ball department of sludge metal, Conan have returned with even more down tuned noise, droning feedback and utter grimness than ever before! If “Existential Void Guardian” sounds like this fearsome power trio may have donned tea cosies and picked up The Guardian, well go take a running jump cos the 7 tracks here come straight from their leadened arsenal along with 4 live favourites just to prove the point. I mean, just look at that f–king album cover – what band on their 4th release issues something like this!?!? If there was any hint of ‘expansion’ or ‘experimentation’ in 2016’s “Revengeance”, then “Existential Void Guardian” doesn’t just tear it all up, but throws it outta the door with a hefty boot kick ha ha. If the barrage of dull thudding stonehenge drums on ‘Eye To Eye To Eye’ isn’t a prelude to a colossal groove of melded fuzz where it’s actually hard to discern between the bass of Chris Fielding and Jon Davis’s guitar, then the latter’s feral vocals, like some beast in the wind, leave little to doubt. Speeding things up with some excellent technical percussion from Johnny King in addition to his usual pounding, the droning guitars hack n slash through savage power riffs like a chainsaw chugging hungrily until it lets rip while maintaining a catchy stoner groove that keeps the attention until the abrupt finish. Crushing utterly on ‘Vexxagon’, Fielding’s distorted bass sets the ominous tone that broods and seethes while the drums crash in and out as the guitar festers on this 6 minute plus song, that never lets up with different catches and hooks making this a very busy (and naturally interesting) track indeed! With ‘Foehammer’ and ‘Satsumo’ among the classics making up the live section, “Existential Void Guardian” is proof positive that the sludge barrel is as thick and hazardous as it was meant to be.