Conjurer – ‘Páthos’

By Ash Bebbington

To many UK metal fans, Conjurer is a band that requires little introduction. Despite ‘Páthos’ being only their second record, they’ve achieved the kind of cult status that takes many bands years and many album cycles to cultivate. ‘Mire’, released in 2018, wasn’t just an exceptional debut but an exceptional metal record in its own right. The West Midlands metallers exploded onto the British metal scene with a serious statement of intent and won over a legion of fans seemingly overnight. Even if you’ve never heard their music before, we’re willing to bet you’ve seen plenty of their merch at gigs and festivals in recent years. So, four years later, have they recaptured what made that record so special?

In a word, yes. And then some. ‘Páthos’ takes the foundations Conjurer built with ‘Mire’ and builds on them to create something even more spectacular than its predecessor.

Never heard Conjurer before? Imagine a band that throws all the best aspects of various extreme metal genres into a blender, while making it all sound like a cohesive whole, and you’re more or less there. If you like your metal heavy with harsh vocals and more riffs than you can get your head around, you may have found your new favourite band.

Sonically, Conjurer have made some decisions that set ‘Páthos’ aside from its predecessor. While ‘Mire’ was an exercise in sheer brutality, there are more clean vocals and clean guitar parts on this record. These help to find some melody and beauty amongst the dirt and extremity, while also making the heavier sections hit even harder.

As a result, this is simultaneously the heaviest and most melodic release they’ve put their name to, a dynamic that makes the dirty sections hit even harder. This can be seen right from the very start of the record with the opening track ‘It Dwells’ which melds together instrumental sections with pure, white-hot fury.

Vocally, the interplay between the guttural growls of Dan Nightingale and the tormented shrieks of Brady Deeprose is better than ever, with both vocalists sounding more experienced and road-tested than on the previous record. This can be seen best on ‘Suffer Alone’, a two-and-a-half-minute rager that sees both vocal tracks crashing into your eardrums over and over again. Nightingale in particular delivers an incredible, demonic performance, hammering home some of the record’s darkest moments from the bottom of his diaphragm.

As ever, all four musicians in this band are unbelievably technically proficient, hammering out riffs, bass lines, and blast beats for fun. You could pick out any number of moments across ‘Páthos’ that highlight this, but perhaps one of the best is ‘All You Will Remember’. It’s a track that crams an impossibly large number of musical ideas into its 7-and-a-half-minute run-time, with crushing low-end guitar parts, blast beats, melodic sections, and even a chorus that sounds like something off a Baroness record. It’s tempting to wonder how much of an influence the band’s Curse These Metal Hands side project – which to many listeners sounded like a homage to Baroness – had on the writing of this track.

Realistically, Conjurer could’ve put out ‘Mire’ 2.0 and it probably would’ve been incredible. It’s to their immense credit that they’ve decided to expand their sound and try new things while losing none of what made them so special in the first place. Simply due to how extreme it is, this album isn’t exactly likely to be a chart-topping smash, but it will certainly cement Conjurer’s place as one of the leading lights of the metal underground in the UK.

ASH BEBBINGTON

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