Conjurer, “Páthos”
By Colin Williams · June 30, 2022 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Sweater/Hoodie, Bag

On their new LP Páthos, Conjurer seems like a band out to prove you can, in fact, have everything. Churning hardcore riffs? In abundance on the record. Soaring, emotive sludge with black metal flourishes? Of course. Tastefully done cleans and acoustic passages? They’re there, too, adorning tracks like “Those Years, Condemned” at just the right moments.

This English four-piece has gone in surprising directions since 2018’s Mire. Across the intervening years, Conjurer dabbled in more triumphant textures in collaboration with experimental rockers Pijn and covered Mastodon and Slipknot on a split with Palm Reader. For those who were expecting something more approaching nü-metal or hard rock, get ready—Páthos is an unsparing record that’s as compositionally deft as it is emotionally weighty.

It also takes abundant risks over its 50-minute runtime. “Rot” is an exceedingly dissonant, menacing track, yet it’s followed by some of the album’s most sentimental vocals in “All You Will Remember.” Both songs mesh together and work individually, priming the listener with creepy ambiance and languid acoustic sections, respectively, and then dropping the hammer. While Mire is more frenetic, sometimes whipsawing between genres, Páthos fuses the band’s influences much more seamlessly and thereby transcends them. The band also knows when to ease off the accelerator. It’s as if Conjurer learned patience during the pandemic years, and bet on listeners who’d wait with them for a reward.

The rewards are there, to be clear—Conjurer’s musicianship comes out both in their aforementioned restraint and in meaty riffs, intricate melodies, and thundering beats. The sheer range of screams shared between guitarists Dan Nightingale and Brady Deeprose is also worth noting here, covering as they do most of the territory between deep growls and harrowing shrieks. “Suffer Alone” sees the two trading off in call-and-response mode over the album’s fastest drum and guitar work.

Even as Páthos defies easy categorization, there are toeholds for metalheads of almost any persuasion. This goes for both the album’s constituent songs and the record itself, as long as one can appreciate slower tempos and the odd wall of sound. Opener “It Dwells” revels in these loftier, more languid moments, as does closer “Cracks in the Pyre.” From great heights, these songs manage graceful landings.

On Páthos, Conjurer ultimately succeeds at marshaling harshness and emotional textures while walking a tightrope between the two. Whether in your headphones or blasting from your basement, this huge-sounding record is clearly the product of a group willing to push itself in new directions without sacrificing what drew listeners in the first place. Conjurer has succeeded where many failed: summoning the ghosts of metal past to create an album that’s unmistakably contemporary.

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