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Conan / Slomatics > Conan vs. Slomatics > Reviews
Conan / Slomatics - Conan vs. Slomatics

Two mighty sludge drone doom efforts on split - 87%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 10th, 2017

Way back when, in 2011, when Conan was a fairly new band and Slomatics were probably slightly better known but had a different line-up, these two UK bands released a split album. Conan have come a long way since then, having had personnel changes and their current sound and style might be very different from what it was in 2011. These guys did have a very solid, very gritty and very rumbling-doom stoner style, in its own way melodic even if chuggingly slow. I'm more familiar with recent Slomatics music from 2014 on and for all I know, the Slomatics of 2011 might be another band altogether.

"Retaliator" is a good introduction to the Conan of 2011: slow but substantial and steady as it goes, with a definite groove and strong riffs, though the drumming seems a bit thin for the rumbling bass guitar and the vocals pale into colourless ghost forms in comparison. "Older than Earth" is equally droning and initially sounds very similar to the previous track, perhaps because the vocals sound exactly the same! But a definite melody exists that isn't on "Retaliator" and the riffs are different too. A thin sinister organ-like keyboard brings in an unhealthy and evil mood to the riffs which swing up and down the scale in a way that keeps listeners off-balanced and maybe feeling a bit nauseous. This is a very repetitive track (up until its last few minutes) and unless you enjoy hearing sludge-speed gravel-grit music with monotonous distant battle cries, you may find this song a very hard slug ... I mean, slog.

Slomatics present a less meandering drone doom front but their music pushes more power, muscle and crunch. "Lose the Five" really glories in its crushing approach, with emphatic crashing drums, grinding bass churning out six-metre high riff grooves and lead guitar emphasising note for note what the rhythm section is engraving into solid rock. As with Conan, the vocals are thin, only more so to the point where they're almost but not quite drowned by the heavy churning music. "Black Blizzard" is a thick lava-sludge track of quivering, bristling deep-end bass and thumping percussion, and if only we could hear the vocals and the atmospheric effects on them more clearly, this might have been a better track, not simply just a massive piece of sludge doom. "Mont Ventoux" presents another mighty steel sludge doom behemoth, a bit more martial in feel, very stupendous and not a little monotonous.

Both bands present mighty droning doom juggernaut efforts though Conan has a slight edge in that the music is slightly more atmospheric and chilling in parts, and the thin vocals provide a better counterpoint to the smouldering doom than the more insubstantial efforts from Slomatics. For their part, Slomatics (at least through their three songs) seem to have a more varied style with a hardcore aspect to "Lose the Five" and a resort to higher-pitched lead guitar solos that add interest to the otherwise nose-to-the-ground / tail-in-the air earth-churning. I'm hard put to recommending one band above the other and can only say you need to listen to these tracks a few times before you decide which is the better band ... as if this split was supposed to be a competition! I think you'll be like me and say that despite sounding similar at first, these two bands can be melodic, atmospheric and in their own ways, quite individual.

As it turns out, the Slomatics of 2011 are not that much different from their current form.

In the cover art, a warrior bestrides a snail. - 90%

caspian, June 7th, 2013

Let's just say that I'm really stoked I bought Conan's Horseback Battle Hammer and this vinyl as a curio way back in the day. Found this recently which was pretty fantastic as I didn't realize I had it, and let's just say that having that cover art in a vinyl sized bit of artwork is worth everyone's time. The music doesn't totally live up to it, but it's still a very, very nice bit of slow as hell stonery stuff.

Conan's side is typically spectacular and the main reason I bought this split. Nothing here is too different from those who've heard Monnos or HBH- that is, a universe sized, ridiculous guitar tone in which the rest of the music is in total servitude of. In that sense you could almost label this as drone-based music, it's so tone based. It's got to be said that there's a bit more depth to Conan then you'd think, mind; the way Retaliator builds into it's epic battle call and then slows right the fuck down suggests a band that knows a lot more than you might originally give them credit for. It's a simple sound, but the drummer is clearly really bloody good and the vocals fit the epic mythology described in the lyrics perfectly. Full marks!

Except- except- for that fucken stupid "I shouldn't have had that last fucking spliff" sample at the end of Older than Earth. You've constructed this righteously awesome warrior-on-a-giant-snail soundscape, there's this grand sound of humongous riffs, triumphant, warrior-chantish vocals (with great lyrics) and a glorious, all pervading tone.. so why ruin it with that? Yeah cool man, you guys were/are stoned. We already know that. It's not interesting.

Moving on. I should just edit the mp3 and get rid of it. Anyway, so Conan's typically planet-levelling effort would be a hell of an act to follow up on. It's a bit of a laugh how Slomatic's bruising "Lose the Five" would in most instances be considered a crusher of a track, but the guitar comes off as quite wimpy first off. In reality though it's a damn good track, and so are the others that follow it. I like how both of these bands are certainly in the same niche of music as each other, but the differences in sound are really big. Slomatics are less vocal-based (which is to say, they're hardly existent), cruise up the neck fairly often for lead times both groovy and atmospheric, and all in all have far less of a getting-run-over-by-a-fuzzy-bus feeling going. Make no mistake, this is still pretty bruising stuff- Black Blizzard has a massive main riff- but it's not quite the force of nature that Conan manages. It's still got that Sabbath influence in there somewhere. Nonetheless, it's still a damn good collection of tunes. Heavy as hell, recorded well and managing to crush without also plodding too much, which is hard to do.

This is a great split, basically. Three very good songs from both bands, a deliberate (as far as I can tell) attempt at levity- you're left wanting a lot more after this split ends, which is intended as a huge, huge compliment- and some of the finest cover art ever. Worth buying for the cover art and an absolute must if you're a stoner doom fan.