Ah yes, slow and heavy music. There is just something hauntingly compelling about the genre of doom metal which makes it so unique in comparison to other metal genres. And, no matter how different doom bands might sound, they typically have in common crushing heaviness and a focus on other emotions than aggression.
Take for instance Conan's debut album Monnos which is a lesson in crushingly heavy grooves and the power of simplicity. Conan are often classified as a stoner doom band, but I would not want to get stoned while listening to their music – that would probably just lead to an angst-driven and paranoia-centred bad trip. The thing is that Conan, whose music is more on the sludgy side, have embraced a near-minimalistic style which brings about images of desolation and barrenness. While not super slow, the tracks on the album are definitely very heavy, and driven by simple and crushing riffs – some of which make use of drone notes and many of which are based on stomping grooves which, due to the simplicity itself, are extremely powerful.
Their music is so heavy that even uptempo passages, as in the case of 'Battle in the Swamp' come across doom-laden and oppressive. This owes in part to the nature of the riffage itself and in part to the insanely bottom-rich and fuzzy sound of the downtuned guitars – just check the intros of 'Headless Hunter' and 'Invisible Throne' which consist of of droning power chords heavy enough to suck the entire solar system into an all destructive black hole of suicidal depression.
The drumming is considerably organic and dynamic, which I quite like, and the vocals range from sludge-oriented harshness to a more chanting style. I would probably prefer a more elaborate and powerful singing style, but then again, the vocals used on the album do fit the barrenness of the music very well. The lyrical universe seems to evolve around epic battles in various desolate and barren, and of course swampy, fantasy landscapes (likely to be inspired by 70s and 80s fantasy movies, literature, and computer games [the instrumental 'Golden Axe' is likely to be named after a classic 80s fantasy archade game]), and, it is definitely interesting to hear such lyrics performed in non-operatic vocals in a non-epic doom metal style.
Fans of crushingly heavy music, such as stoner doom, sludge doom and the like, should definitely give Conan's Monnos a listen. Its heavy and simple riffage has all the stuff that makes for good sludge doom.
1. Hawk as Weapon
2. Battle in the Swamp
3. Grim Tormentor
4. Golden Axe
5. Headless Hunter
6. Invincible Throne