It’s hard to really imagine just how impactful a band’s debut could potentially be. After an arguable drought of interesting material, the last few years have shown a resurgence of quality, proving that intelligent and challenging songwriting within a bland and bloated scene is not out of the question. Serving as the successor to the positively received ‘I’ EP, ‘Mire’ shows a continuous growth in musical dexterity, blending early Mastodon, Gojira at their most explosive, and the Death Metal chops of the masterful Opeth.
Kicking off the experience is ‘Choke’; an immensely powerful opener that grabs the attention of those listening from the get-go. Thick chugs lead the charge before a gargantuan roar breaks from guitarist/vocalist Dan Nightingale. Co-songwriter and guitarist/vocalist Brady Deeprose shares the burden with a skull-shattering shriek, and the heavy instrumentation serves as an irreplaceable backing for an equally heavy lyrical theme. ‘Eyes sink, veins swell, inks smear across this battled face. In drowning these spirits, I have lost; they have won.’ Battles against ones’ own mental health act as a regular draw of inspiration for the group throughout the course of the album’s 43 minute run time, and following the opener comes ‘Hollow’, a stone-eyed take on the reality of self-mutilation.
With ‘Thankless’, Nightingale bares all and reveals the blackened state of his mind. ‘There’s only so much one can ponder their departure ‘fore it becomes an option they might take.’ This is the only track to feature any melodic vocals, giving a glimpse into what may come with future releases. Powerfully executed alongside bellows drenched in desperation, the crushing lyrical content breathes an added sense of darkness to the soundscape. ‘Is it a sin to curse the life I’m blessed with? To let it all fade?’
This is succeeded by the serious one-two punch of ‘Retch’ and the beautifully executed ‘The Mire’. ‘Retch’ is arguably the record at its most straightforward, however, it still towers triumphantly over many of their contemporaries. Vocally decimating, and with tar-thick riffing, not one moment loses your attention. ‘The Mire’, heavily laced with a strong Black Metal influence, serves as a stellar example of just how awe-inspiring the world’s most unlistenable genre can be.
‘Of Flesh Weaker Than Ash’ and ‘Hadal’ are the most colossal of the bunch. The slow build to an almighty crescendo towards the climax of the penultimate track leads one to believe that there is little room to continue. The record’s finale takes this motif and runs with it. Clawing through a narrative detailing the unexplored depths of the ocean and the horrors within its waters, Nightingale’s lyrical strand takes an unexpected turn. Adding to this some of the most ferocious vocal delivery of the entire project, it finally breaks down at its conclusion and explodes into a bestial exchange between the two frontmen. ‘This place cannot be claimed.’
Seven months on, this album still holds serious weight and is a strong contender for the album of the year title. Not only does it prove itself to be a staggering debut, but it also begs the question: where do they go next? Conjurer have proved themselves to be one of the forerunners of the UK Metal scene and another jewel in the blistering Holy Roar crown. With the writing for a sophomore record already underway, it can only be a matter of time before we find out for certain. One thing is for sure: nothing will stop them.
Mire artwork designed by Rodrigo Serna.
Image rights belong to Holy Roar and their respective photographers.