The cover of Conans split with Slomatics
  • The cover of Conan’s split with Slomatics

Liverpool trio Conan call their music “caveman battle doom,” an invented subgenre that apparently dwells somewhere just shy of funeral doom but well beyond relatively swinging stuff like Electric Wizard and the Gates of Slumber.

That is, it’s slow. Not as slow as, say, Moss—who I’m convinced can actually stop your blood from circulating—but still stupidly slow. With music like this, you don’t listen for riffs so much as for the rich, chocolatey guitar tone (though I suppose a comparison to confectionery might seem silly for something as heavy as a neutron star). The riffs themselves are so dilated it’s sometimes almost impossible to perceive their shapes—maybe if you scanned through the song on CD they’d be catchy.

I particularly enjoy the odd harmonic intervals between the parallel vocal parts, and between the vocals and the guitars—the singing does a fine job splitting the difference between “war cry” and “graveside wail.” And the hi-hat business gives the beat an internal bustle that’s much livelier than the mountainous plod of kick and snare.

But who am I kidding? The main reason I chose “Older Than Earth” as today’s 12 O’Clock Track is the cover art. An armored warrior, wrapped in fur and carrying a lance, riding a giant snail? Never let it be said that metalheads don’t have a sense of humor about how ridiculous their music can get.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.