There is a blasted wasteland where a substantial area of the South East used to be.
The soil is desiccated and skull white; the clouds above tainted dirty brown with fallout. All around – devastation, with hills, villages, towns and cities all swept away by the fury of the cataclysm. All life is gone, and yet the eerie whistle of the wind, blowing faintly over the desolation whispers a different story:
“That new Conan album is bloody amazing….”
Contained within a lead lined, concrete container, the last copy of this album is retained so its secrets may one day be understood. That such a record, capable of blowing the living crap out of Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey, and some bits of Buckinghamshire no one gives a shit about, still exists is controversial, yet the sheer power of Blood Eagle is such that some semblance of it must remain so one day mankind (and womankind, let’s not be sexist) may one day master the power of creation itself…. Or be utterly twatted in the process.
The Harrowing of Basingstoke
On closer examination, it is safe to say that album opener, “Crown of Talons”, is mainly responsible for what has latterly become known as the Harrowing of Basingstoke, starting out with a slab-heavy doom riff before crushing all in its path with a relentless rhythmic drone. As the howling vocals finally sweep in and rise to a choral crescendo at the really heavy bits, you can indeed appreciate why everyone in Reading keeled over and fucking died, such is its heaviness.
“Total Conquest” then throbs and rasps into being with a spaced out druggist riff before the pounding chug of the guitars kicks in. How harsh is this song? It stops for a moment, gathers its thoughts and then starts again, even heavier and more discordant than before. This is doubtless where fish started bobbing about dead in rivers and birds began to fall from the sky. Also, the grass probably went a bit brown in Portsmouth. The song then concludes with a crunching lead out that, fittingly, takes over two minutes to conclude.
In the wake of this, “Foehammer” goes in and, well, hammers everyone with THAT SOLO which gurgles with relentless heaviness and demands extreme violence in any self-respecting mosh pit. The rest of the song can be best described as a relentless pounding that softens you up for another go on THAT SOLO, which is probably when most of the drivers on the M4 spontaneously shat out their spines and the entirety of the New Forest rotted into pure mulch.
As it slows down even more for a mid-song trudge into oblivion (this is when everyone in High Wycombe said ‘fuck it’ and just set fire to themselves, though that might just have been down to them living in High Wycombe in the first place), the listener is gifted a brief glimpse of the slow, agonising consumption of planets in the maw of a black hole, so yeah, that one’s pretty good too.
As most complex multi-cellular life (and Slough) began to weep and ooze as flesh fell off the bones of the few mewling survivors, along came “Gravity Chasm”, with a name that could, on its own, destroy whole swathes of the landscape but with an amazing core groove that stomped the listener under the feet of thousands of gigantic, cadaverous kangaroos. It’s also got a good beat. Perhaps the most groove-laded track on the album, it cleverly knows how to break this up with varied sections so as to keep the central conceit fresh. Also, to kill everyone on the Isle of Wight.
Another colossal groove
As the very landscape began to shake asunder and collapse into hitherto hidden vast underground caverns, unleashing previously contained life-eating contagions, and the skies above began to rain black, so “Horns for Teeth” came along and tried to cheer everyone up. Actually, it didn’t, as another colossal groove smashes into the ears and doesn’t so much have a breakdown as a full-on slow motion screaming fit, its tempo slowing ever more until it reaches an absolute singularity of heaviness and, finally, all remnants of life in the zone of death were finally extinguished.
Finally, “Altar of Grief” could be heard roaring over the desolate wastes, starting slowly and relentlessly before reaching a crescendo of drone and hooks that summoned the spirits of the tormented dead and made them punch each other for its entirety before finally, mercifully, fading away into silence, but for the weak whisper of the wind….
All copies of the album were soon rounded up and destroyed. All but one. I now held that album in my hands. Dare I play it again?
“We’re in the centre of Glasgow”, the custodian of the dark archive told me. “If you blew the place up, no one would fucking notice anyway.” The government had chosen the last resting place of Blood Eagle only too well.
And so I played the album again and again, devastation bleeding from the speakers…. And in the distance, the wasteland echoed the songs of its lifeless birth.Conan
Alexander Hay is a writer and polemicist based online and in print.