Label: Holy Roar Records
There’s been quite a lot of hype around Conjurer recently, and it’s easy to hear why. The new album from the UK band, Mire, is a fearsome mix of forward-thinking, progressive song-writing and supremely heavy music. Sitting somewhere between early Opeth, early Mastodon, and Gojira, Mire is as devastatingly heavy as it is heart-achingly beautiful as it is emotionally cathartic. It’s a hell of a gut-punch of a record, made all the more impressive by the fact that this is only their debut album.
As the name of the record might imply, Mire is filled with heavy, weighty atmospheres, that aren’t far removed from the blackest of sludge. Yet Conjurer don’t sit easily within that category – their playing is too deft, too full of life and energy to be easily described as sludge. Riffs shift direction at a moment’s notice, veering between almost djent-like pummeling to highly technical, lightning-fast bursts of melody that make a comparison to Mastodon’s Remission album more than warranted. And like that album, there is a sense that Mire isn’t so much breaking down genre boundaries as ignoring them completely, without worrying about fitting in with any certain scene or target demographic. When the music’s this good, such concerns are as good as obsolete.
Within any single song, Conjurer will shift tone and atmosphere half a dozen times. Second track ‘Hollow’ is a prime example of this. Opening with dark, tar-covered sludge riffs, it then moves in to spacious, almost post-metal atmospheres, that build up to an explosive moment of slow-motion emotional catharsis, topped off with a heart-wrenching melodic lead. A few moments later, they’re firmly in to up-tempo Mastodon technical riffs, before again scaling things back to more gentle, beautiful sounds, which shift in to the most punishing movement of the song as it closes with dual-vocal bellows and pummeling double bass-drum kicks. Other tracks feature sections of hardcore energy and intensity, and what can almost be described as breakdowns.
Whilst this might imply that Mire is an album lacking in focus, picking from countless styles and moods rather than risking settling on one, that’s not the case at all. It’s remarkable that, despite its many twists and turns, Mire never feels like it is lacking in direction or focus. What these shifts do is keep the music exciting and energetic, making it incredibly difficult to second-guess what direction Conjurer will move in next; even after a dozen listens, the album still seems to summon new surprises.
It also has to be noted how immediate an album Mire is. Albums this full of twists and turns often need a half dozen listens to make any kind of sense of, but the energy that Conjurer put across give the album a very instant appeal; whilst the progressive, technical song-writing ensure that Mire stays interesting in the long-term. It is a deeply layered album, full of dynamism and intelligence, and after spending time with Mire, it’s hard not to conclude that Conjurer might just be one of the best extreme metal bands the UK has produced in recent years.