After his last band ended, John Rau knew he wanted to do something, in his words, "heavy and down-tuned," with this next project.
That succinctly describes Conjurer, Rau's new band that includes bassist Gabe Whitcomb, drummer Dillon Enright, fellow guitarist Brian Wyrick and vocalist Dustin Mendel.
Their debut self-titled EP continues a fine heavy music tradition in Indianapolis currently carried by the likes of The Gates of Slumber and Apostle of Solitude. That is, music that doesn't need to be played at breakneck speed to prove its metal cred.
A menacing, sludgy blackout like "Singularity" wouldn't be out of place in Eyehategod's setlist. But Conjurer also know how to pick up the pace without becoming monotonous. Opening track "Minions" starts like a runaway freight train before wallowing in sonic mud and sorrow. "The Gate" is likewise a furnace blast of bottom-feeding riffage. Even when the guitars quiet down on the still-ferocious "Marauders," it's only to allow the rhythm section room to add a disquieting solitude to the mix.
It's not bad considering Rau's exposure to any sort of darker music was Alice in Chains' "Dirt" when he was in second grade. Bands like Pantera followed in junior high.
"In the summer of 1998 I went to see Upheaval, Emotion Zero and Burn it Down at the Emerson," said Rau, whose former bands include Angelville and Red Shadows. "Ever since I've been hooked on metal and underground heavy music."
Conjurer's EP was mixed and mastered by Clandestine Arts Recording, which was founded by Carl Byers. He's a guitarist in Coffinworm, another influential metal collective in Indianapolis.
"I think the metal/hardcore scene, or whatever you want to call it, is very tight-knit," Rau said. "It's also very supportive. A lot of times your friends' bands are guys that you've been in other bands with, so you do everything you can to help each other out."
Conjurer's release show is Saturday at Indy's Jukebox with The Gates of Slumber and others to be announced. Admission is $8 and only open to those 21 and older.