Conan – ‘Existential Void Guardian’ (Album Stream)
After discussing a followup to 2016's great Revengeance for a while, UK metal band Conan are finally set to release their new album Existential Void Guardian this Friday (9/14) via Napalm Records (pre-order). It's their first album with new drummer Johnny King, and it continues Revengeance's path towards bigger, more melodic songs at a faster, punked-up pace. "This album has a lot more of that early '90s hardcore feel to it and I really enjoy that," frontman Jon Davis told us, and it's easy to hear that. It's still got some of the doom/sludge of Conan's early days too, but it's less swampy and plodding than Conan once were. The album's a real ripper, and we've got the premiere of the whole thing below.
Jon Davis also answered a few questions for us over email, and mentioned that Conan plan to tour the US again in early 2019, so stay tuned for that. Read on for our conversation...
Revengeance saw Conan bringing in faster, punkier tempos and more melodic vocals, and that continues on Existential Void Guardian. Was that a conscious thing or just a natural development in the band's songwriting?
We have been doing this over 10 years now and our sound now is miles away from our sound on the Battle In The Swamp demos. Over that amount of time any band will evolve somewhat, and we are no different. We always wanted to get better and play heavier and all that stuff, but there was no conscious effort to sound a certain way so it was completely natural. We do have more going on in terms of how the songs are composed because we are progressively getting better or more confident at expressing ourselves. Playing fast is fun, we all listen to lots of super fast bands so it was always going to happen that we would play a few fast songs here and there, it started with "Satsumo"" and then "Battle In The Swamp," then "Foehammer" then "Revengeance" and now this new release has some faster moments too. It’s fun to mix things up a bit, being able to work on new ways of making Conan music, but not losing our ‘sound’ is a fun challenge.
What were some of the specific bands that influenced the new album?
Hard to say really, same as usual but maybe showing a bit more Fudge Tunnel and Helmet worship. High on Fire come into our music a lot, so too Slomatics and Black Cobra, but this album has a lot more of that early 90s hardcore feel to it and I really enjoy that.
This is your first album with drummer Johnny King. How does working with him compare to past drummers, and what new things does he bring to the band?
Well, firstly we have been extremely lucky to work with some great drummers. Paul O’Neil really laid the groundwork for what this band would become and his style is very much present in Johnny’s playing. I guess Johnny also has a level of power that complements the finesse that he has. He brings more of a death metal feel to this album, a little bit more direct than those who went before him too. We really love how his playing made the tracks more crushing.
You included four live recordings as bonus tracks for this album. What inspired that decision and, for you, how do the live tracks you picked relate to the new songs?
The live tracks were actually the label’s idea to be honest. We thought the album was fine as it was but our contract requires that we write a certain amount of material per release and we fucked up. Therefore, the live tracks were chosen because they worked on the recording that we had from Manchester.
Speaking of live shows, when can we expect Conan to tour the US next?
Well actually, we are working on some dates now and if all goes to plan we’ll be there early 2019. Watch this space!