Have you ever been hit by a gust of wind so strong that it took your breath away? Listening to Conjurer on full blast feels pretty much like that. You might like the music or not, but there is no denying its strength.

Death and black metal, doom, hardcore and post-metal combine on Mire to create a very powerful sound, well produced, and that in itself is a noteworthy accomplishment, especially for a debut album. The band members, although pretty young, have mastered their instruments. The drumming is impressive, and the guitars, alongside of it, are also excellent.

The album cover presents, at first glance, a complete contrast to the music, looking very unspectacular and quiet. That’s not a bad thing, though. The monsters on metal album covers, especially the feminized ones, have become extremely boring, stupid, and backward. In the real world, most of the time, men tyrannize women, not the other way around. Instead of monsters, the cover to Mire features an innocent storybook scenery in black and white: a classic English dry stone wall, a bridge over a brook. Into this innocent scenery two hooded figures have been placed. They are carrying a wooden box, presumably a coffin. This creates an uncanny contrast. It’s subtle, less in-your-face, and therefore more mature.

What the lyrics are about, one can’t really say. The double-vocal growling hinders understanding. Judging from the songs’ titles (for example Retch, or Of Flesh Weaker than Ash), at least some of the tracks deal with classic death metal themes. I don’t find that very innovative. And I like the singing much better, when it’s not growling, but, unfortunately, one can hear that only in one or two short occasions on the album.

The video to the album’s title song The Mire starts out with a classic gothic scenery: a house in a foggy swamp landscape at dusk. In the house, a “virginal maiden“, dressed in a white, innocent dress, about to fall asleep. A male character, probably the maiden’s husband, is stingily counting money by the dim light of a single candle. The classic gothic novel plot would have the maiden saved from the hands of the stingy husband by some hero. The maiden in the video, saves herself by poisoning her husband. However, the swamp, or mire, she runs into is not a welcoming or comforting landscape, and in the end she breaks down. I like very much how the albums title is mirrored in the landscape and the atmosphere of the video, and how is starts out raising classic gothic expectations only to reconstruct them later. Way to go!

To summarize: Great potential, great music, well played, well produced, but nothing new on the vocal front. It will be very interesting to see where Conjurer will be going in the future.

(8/10 Slavica)