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While not quite as massive as the frankly ridiculous Horseback Battle HammerEP that started these guys off, this is still quite astounding, and still one of the most sonically massive I've ever heard and ever will hear. The harder it is to write a review while the album you're reviewing's playing, the better the album is, arguably. Monnos doesn't demand your attention so much as suffocate you under total everything-ness. Dense as fuck!
Sabbath were louder, fuzzier, denser than, I dunno, Cream. It's easy enough to trace some sort of progression here, Sabbath begat Vitus begat Dopesmoker, begat Dopethrone or something. Conan lie a fair bit further along this line of increasingly dense, unsettling doom offspring. There's something astonishingly dense about this record; some credit is certainly due to the producer. The guitar tone really defies belief; incredibly down tuned, really fuzzy yet still remarkably powerful. It's certainly a stoner doom album but the closest a stoner doom album could get to drone while retaining it's moniker. The Sleep influence is there 100%, but it's really on a whole other planet. Remember when you first put Dopethrone on, Vinum Sabbathi started and you thought it was really fuzzy, really dirty, just the doomiest, heaviest thing you'd ever heard? Behold the next level.
It's such a tone-based album. The riffs certainly aren't bad but let's be honest here, this wouldn't work anywhere near as well if the guitars were tuned up a bit and the production was scaled back. But here it is, and all herald its shape and shadow. That part where Hawk and Weapon breaks from it's slumber and begins it's lumbering gallop is truly glorious to behold! Nothing here is even remotely speedy, but the generous mixture of almost mid tempo sections with monstrous half time ultra doom is well done, as is the way the chanted/yelled vocals soar over the top. It's cool making something that weighs 100000 tons and is static, but if you can get it moving, if you can give it locomotion then you can really wreck shit, and that's what Conan have done here.
It's an entertaining listen, and I think keeping it at 40 minutes of material is pretty worthwhile, as it's also an exhausting one. It's a remarkably immersive way of spending 40 minutes though; it's quite remarkable how an album full of modern instrumentation etc. can sound so primal, so old, so barbarian-esque. There's something about this record that makes me want to do a huge amount of lifting and find a desert cliff to live on. And again, for this the tone must be thanked. It's everything on this album. And it's really awesome.
Get this album as soon as you can. If you like doom it'll blow your mind.
Tone. That is what hits you first when listening to this album. Or bludgeons I should say. The band have picked a suitable name for their type of extremely heavy doom; this is metal for battles and bloodshed, but thankfully there are no orchestrations, choirs or accordions to be heard here. Just some of the thickest, most massive-sounding and just plain beautiful guitar and bass tones I’ve heard for aeons. This is what doom should sound like!
Maybe it’s stoner, maybe it’s trad, maybe it’s even epic. It doesn’t matter. It’s all doom and that’s what counts. There’s mournful, ponderous passages that remind you of the aftermath of a battle or the view from a recently scaled mountain. Then there’s doom thunder raining down on you like the gods themselves have singles you out for total destruction. There’s insanely heavy, dominating riffs built to last for the ages. And there’s a song called ‘Golden Axe.’ What more do you need?
The vocals are of the clean variety, coming across almost like a chant or a yell. Again this suits the battle-like ritual atmosphere of the album; doom is coming: get out of the way or be engulfed. Lyrically we’re very much in this area too: references to swords and battles, death and destruction, gates and thrones. Maybe some would like something more original, but personally this exactly where I want a doom band to be. There’s a lot to be said for a band that accepts and understands their genre fully and who throws themselves into it wholeheartedly. The simplicity here breeds a power, directness and full-bloodedness not often heard, and Monnos is a great listen. Conan are ones to watch – they pursue their doom with a lot of character, individuality and passion.
originally written for: http://hauntingtheobscure.blogspot.co.uk/