Album Review: Conan’s Blood Eagle is Their Heaviest Release to Date
If you want the full experience of diving into a Conan record, turn your back on all communication and prepare yourself for an hour of uninterrupted, doom-laden reflection time. Stick your phone in the freezer. Give yourself total darkness. Whatever it takes. Though Blood Eagle is this Northern English trio’s third full-length album as a band, it’s their debut on Napalm Records, who seem to have delivered us Conan’s heaviest release to date.
Blood Eagle, much like Conan’s previous work, is a towering monolith of a record from the slow, foreshadowing intro of “Crown Of Talons” to the brief influences of thrash in “Total Conquest” to the panicked, pummeling “Foehammer” to the very last note of the nine-minute eulogy “Altar Of Grief.” There is a sense of brooding evil that seems to bleed out of the down-tuned guitar and sandpaper-throated battle chants throughout the entire album that leave the listener in a daze of worship. There are some bits, like in the galloping “Gravity Chasm,” that remind of early ISIS records—only in the sense that the encapsulated-rage-turned-sludge-riffs presentation mixed with heartfelt shouts is so intensely moving, but with a much deeper, fuller low-end and is somehow a hundred times heavier.
It seems that the entire point of Conan is to strip away all unnecessary, peripheral doodling in metal and get down the very meat of it, the visceral, the impossibly heavy woes of our species’ past, the kill-or-be-killed ancient rage the originates not only on blood-soaked battlefields but also in the unforgiving, every-day fight for survival. These elements seem to speak to the primitive instincts that all too often lie dormant in the subconscious. The result is a sound that is deeply, innately human, and gives the band the right to emblazon “CAVEMAN BATTLE DOOM” across the back of their shirts.
The entire experience of Blood Eagle is like bathing in doom in its most hypnotic and encapsulating sense; a soul-cleansing, heart-stopping, unholy baptism of a record. If you require a squealing, virtuoso guitar solo in every song, Conan might not be for you, but if the epic hymns on this record don’t leave you with an unquenchable desire to gallop full-speed into prehistoric battle, torch in one hand and bludgeoner in the other, then you might consider getting your adrenaline levels tested.