Conjurer – Páthos

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Artist: Conjurer

Album: Páthos

Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: July 21st, 2022

Location: Rugby, UK

Written by Hanif Karim

The first time I heard Conjurer was live at a lovingly-past-its-prime venue on the east side of Vancouver. It was late winter bleeding into early spring: a chill in the air and suitably gloomy – clouds compressing the city. In every possible way it was preferable to be indoors – though – as it turned out this was to be last time we would gather in such a manner for more than two long- years.

Conjurer was mesmerizing that night, and no moment more epitomized this than Dan Nightingale’s unvarnished, unamplified voice straining against the haunting, somehow prescient opening verse of Hollow from their debut album, The Mire:

If only a mirror could see past the skin

Through the meat and the bone

I might find the parasite

That has made my body its home.

The words would resonate long after the venue emptied of people and we drifted away – towards the solitude of our state-sanctioned isolation. The Mire seemed the perfect soundtrack to a pandemic without end: “Tear it out Rip it out of your frame, With reckless Abandon”: how perfectly does a line capture the zeitgeist.

Such lyrics insist on an equally wrenching, despairing sound and on The Mire, Conjurer manifested this through unnerving vocals, percussive, dissonant beats and hollowed-out riffs that left you feeling adrift and bereft and occasionally elated – as on the song ‘Thankless’ – marked by stunningly gorgeous riffs and the admonitory line – “Thankless squanderer/Aimless wanderer” – as if they could see into your soul.

On Páthos, the band’s follow-up album, Conjurer depict a state of anxious interiority. What is pathos, after all, but a rhetoric of suffering and calamity. The album unfolds like a distorted chorus in a Greek tragedy. ‘It Dwells’ – the opening track – exhibits the vocal virtuosities of Brady Deeprose and (the aforementioned) Nightingale – a howling maelstrom of the malevolent: “Always lurking, waiting /Watching on as your sickening /Presence wears my will ’til it breaks”. But the brilliance of the song, with its lyrical acoustic intro – and of the album – are the reversals in tone and mood. On ‘All You Will Remember’, for instance, a sprawling, beautiful evocation of loss (memory and self), the vocal range shifts between haunting whisper, despairing growl and poetic utterance, while on ‘Rot’ the slightly unnerving Halloween-like intro yields to a kind of sonic entropy – slightly unhinged riffs and beats – the half-life of forever.

The shortest song on the album, and my personal favourite is ‘Suffer Alone’. At just over two-and-half minutes it’s a blast beat of raging intensity and dystopian claustrophobia – all snarled vocals and nightmare-inducing lyrics – an anthem for the fucked-up state of the world – on the precipice of no-tomorrow – a song that conjures with all the crushing, compressed brilliance of a band that can do no wrong.

Listen to and order the album:

Bandcamp




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