Conan – Evidence of Immortality Review

Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a heavy brow, leaned into the wood and pushed. Long had they been lashed to the Wheel of Pain, sinews straining to honor their commitment to King Riff.1 Lo these many years did Conan‘s toil yield downtuned sacrifices to the King, great heaving plates of troo doom crashing into each other as the sound of their collision rose to the clouds to challenge the thunder itself. Mighty indeed were Conan‘s labors, and yet, as they strained against the Wheel, Conan couldn’t help but wonder: Is this all there is? Is it meant that I should spend my days cranking out an endless chain of plodding tribute? What is to be Conans and only Conans? Conan stared into the sun, so that the pain searing their retinas might blot out the agony from the blisters… and in that moment of clarity, a solution descended: I know, thought Conan: I’ll just push a little harder. 

Tempo! That’s what distinguishes Evidence of Immortality from the rest of Conan‘s output. The AMG Emporium of Mystery Aromas last touched base with these English doom sutlers in 2014, when the honored but obscure Noctus blessed Blood Eagle with a 3.5. The trio has spent the subsequent epoch doing battle with the Law of Diminishing Recordings, churning through a series of releases that may not have shamed the legacy of their forebears, but still failed to expand Conan‘s lands and dominion. Evidence of Immortality strives to fight off the band’s potential midlife crisis by introducing uptempo riffs in songs like “Levitation Hoax”  and “Ritual of Anonymity.”2 The new album mixes these (relatively) peppy numbers with songs powered by the thudding earth-moving machinery that has long kept these barbarians supplied with swords and sandals. Is it a winning tweak to Conan‘s never-ending push day routine?

Wherever you stand on ConanEvidence of Immortality won’t change your mind. Fans of thick and heavy riffage will nod along to tracks like opener “A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots” and “Righteous Alliance;” those who wrote the act off several albums ago won’t be won over by the uptempo numbers or synth-laden closer “Grief Sequence.” Jon Davis’s clean-ish vocals cover maybe one octave of range, but they’re buried in the mix and drenched in reverb. Conan wouldn’t want the lyrics to distract you from the skull-splitting riffs–and mission accomplished there, as the production showcases the mighty ruckus the band kicks up with only one guitar, one bass, and one set of drums at their disposal. Conan may be feinting in new directions, but Evidence of Immortality is still a dense slab of their trademark “caveman battle doom.”

True glory might come from conquest, but there’s still honor in defending your own borders. Conan has always distinguished itself with quality riffs, and they rise to their own standard on Evidence of Immortality. “Equilibrium of Conquest” sacks and pillages on the strength of a portcullis-shattering siege engine of a riff, while “Levitation Hoax” flirts with a Windhand tempo in spots and gets over on the strength of its songwriting. The drummer isn’t credited anywhere in the materials submitted by Napalm Records, but Wikipedia lists the band’s current time-keeper as Johnny King. King puts this slave galley through its paces, getting things started with a narcotized count-off on “A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots” and bashing away with aplomb on “Ritual of Anonymity.”

Conan hasn’t been skipping any heavy sets, and they remain capable low-end craftsmen. That said, their new album feels like it’s caught between conflicting impulses. The new wrinkles in the band’s sound are a welcome addition; Evidence of Immortality would be a stronger record if Conan had chased their urge to innovate. It’s still a thunderous good time–put this album on, drink some grog, and punch the camel of your choice. Just don’t expect Evidence of Immortality to vanquish quite as much territory as the band’s previous campaigns.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: Not Applicable3 | Format Reviewed: Stream4
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: hailconan.com | facebook.com/hailconan
Releases Worldwide: August 19, 2022

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Conan’s pronouns are “they/them.” It’s a reboot, go with it.
  2. Definitely watch the embedded video for “Levitation Hoax.” It features a sight gag that never stops making me smile.
  3. Boo
  4. Boo!
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