Conjurer’s growth has really been something to observe, not least because they aren’t the sort of band who’d typically pick up the traction they have. Even within metal, they place themselve distinctly far from any obvious mainstream space for how much more sludgy and monolithic they are, and yet, quality ultimately wins out with how excellent Mire was. Of course, that isn’t to be conflated with any chart-bothering predictions; even in an era where metal albums will yield far greater successes than they once did, Conjurer aren’t above ground to that degree yet, though it’s not like they couldn’t be. After all, Mire was the sort of uncompromisingly heavy and occasionally challenging album that tends to have some great longevity among metal fans, and Páthos is a natural extension on that. Instead of any great sonic overhaul to perfunctorily signify some kind of new era, Conjurer have simply doubled down on what made them great to begin with, namely the blend of vast post-metal expanse with an earth-rending heaviness for frequently excellent results. It’s got the feel of a real colossus that can be hard to land upon while also showcasing some impressive diversity; opener It Dwells sets the tone excellently in how its sharper, cleaner intro will weave among the volatile guitars, in a noteworthy fashion too. Most of Páthos crosses the six- or seven-minute mark and feels completely justified in doing so each time, as Conjurer feel totally equipped to allow their songs to build with an elegance that never undercuts their own fire. Cracks In The Pyre serves as the perfect culmination of that, as triumphant and epic as closers get with the lead-dragging heft left intact. In contrast, there’s Suffer Alone, by far the shortest track that doesn’t move the album forward in terms of scope or feel, but acts as a blast of discord that at least works as a means of opening up Conjurer’s repertoire even further.
In truth, everything about Páthos lives up to the standard that Conjurer have already set for themselves. Particularly in the technicality of it all and how that empowers the weight of it even further, there are moments like the spellbinding crescendo that morphs into the blast beats of All You Will Remember, or the pummelling, circular riff of In Your Wake that continuously drags itself forth. All of that is rooted in top-grade performances from all involved, notably Jan Krause’s drumming that maintains an excellent command of power and precision at all times. There’s also Brady Deeprose as a vocalist, who sounds more driven and imperious than ever in his screams, the sort of performance that brings an edge to a track like Basilisk almost reminiscent of the biggest of US metal, as well as an emotionality to All You Will Remember and Those Years, Condemned, the former with sparing cleans to emphasise its haunting even further. Indeed, it does a lot for Páthos’ lyrical angles of fear and anxieties, where the fraught power and intensity comes through in spades and ups the potency even further. It’s evident of how effect the slow burn of the album is that Conjurer’s strength never diminishes; if anything, the builds and grand, quaking enormity do so much more for it. With production that accentuates each individual shift and riff to tremendous effect, Páthos really does move Conjurer forward in a noticeable and impactful way. Compared to a lot of metal bands in the same vein that can prioritise the size of their output without actually doing anything with it, Páthos skirts around any such problem with a deeply engaging and consuming listen, and one that never actually feels unnecessarily padded either. Conjurer are quite simply one of modern metal’s brightest shining lights, and it’s albums like this that continue to prove that; in their field, on all fronts, they’re well on the way to being truly and utterly unmatched.
For fans of: Gojira, Oathbreaker, Mastodon
‘Páthos’ by Conjurer is released on 1st July on Nuclear Blast Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall