Cormorant – Earth Diver

Cormorant_EarthThough I’ve seen the name in the metal press for years, I’ve never given Cormorant a spin; it could have been their placement on the lists of writers whose tastes don’t align with my own, it could have been laziness; most likely both. Regardless, here we are, a self-released, brand new album from these Bay Area ‘progressive’ extreme metal musicians and I have to say:


Coming at them with fresh ears, this crazed combination of early Cynic, black metal, neo-folk, expertly phrased leadwork and warm production bowled me over like a Northern Michigan wind gust. Earth Diver flirts with the aforementioned styles but melds them into a clay of its own making, ready for the earphoned elite to make out of it what he or she will. The folkish flow flattens out the varied vocal styles (Chuck-like death gurgles, clean singing, and a blackened hardcore delivery) into a highway that thoughtful guitars, skilled bass playing and odd-time percussion roll along while avoiding pompous, metronome-worshipping potholes. Melodic, triumphant, nigh Arghoslent-level battle riffs pepper (what could be, anyway) the war hymn ‘Mark the Trail’. Bits of thrash, doom and the dissonant guitars of Gomorrah’s Season Ends-era Earth Crisis can also be heard (check the excellent ‘Waking Sleep’ for examples), but somehow never confuse the already wide range of goings-on; no, these disparate additions serve only to add color to this band’s expansive – and tasteful – palette, in much the same way the intriguing cover art by Sam Ford of Wizard Rifle combines pleasing hues and monstrous imagery into something fresh and head-turning.

I often acquaint (or reacquaint) myself with a band’s catalog before writing a review, but in the case of

Cormorant’s latest, the arrangements, atmospheres, and utterly unique melody lines of the guitars riding the riffs call for complete listener submergence again and again, without the distraction of what has come before. Earth Diver demands – and deserves – the 2014 extreme metal fan’s time and attention completely on its own, as would any release of this caliber. -Jim


~ by cliftonium on April 9, 2014.

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