Album Review- Cormorant- Dwellings
Posted by RiffRaff
When I’m watching a sports match I tend to always root for the underdog(unless one of my NJ/NY teams happen playing). Often times it does lead to a disappointment, but when the little guy pulls through and wins the game it always feels as if I took part in something special and makes up for the large amount of disappointments. The metal realm is quite similar to the sports realm in this regard(as well as many others). There are the big labels and bands that are like the NY Yankees and New England Patriots, there are the mid-range guys who always put up fight and more than often pull through with a top-quality game/album, and then there are the underdogs. In the metal world I consider the underdogs to be the unsigned and independent bands, and even if their heart is in the right place most of the time, they often fall short and don’t make it big. But when one of these unsigned and independent bands pulls through and creates a masterful work that takes the music realm by storm and you’re there to catch it, boy, is it something quite masterful to witness.
Case in point would be the album I will be talking about. Earlier this year I became introduced to San Franciscan metal band Cormorant by way of an offer to name my price on their earlier album Metazoa. I took them up on the offer, downloaded it, listened to it, and ultimately enjoyed it. Unfortunately, with the huge deluge of music pouring into my collection this year it got lost in the shuffle. Fast-forward some months to a few weeks ago, I came across a link to stream their latest offering Dwellings in its entirety. While Metazoa was a very solid album(I have gone back and listened to it a few times through since checking out the new album), Dwellings improves upon all the foundations laid by the previous work and ultimately turns into a beast of such a staggering magnitude that it had become next to impossible for me to stop listening to the album at all. I can not think of one unsigned band in recent memory that has had that kind of impact on me. The underdog has pulled through and showed the big dogs where it’s at. Also of note is the amount of positive press Dwellings is receiving, and rightfully so, not a small feat for a little known(well not anymore 🙂 ) independent metal band.
The music of Cormorant is quite interesting. At their core Cormorant is a prog metal band with lots of influence from Black Metal, MeloDeth, and Folk Metal. And now the big “but”. While bands that combine genres like this are a dime a dozen these days, it’s the amount of passion, originality with the infused genres, and control the band has that really makes Dwellings stand out from the rest. The album was self-funded by the band and was a labor of love on their part and it really shines through as every word and note you can feel the energy and soul that the band poured into making this release.
The band shows great control on this record also. For example, there are many guitar solos and big leads on Dwellings, and the musicians are quite adept at their craft. And while they can shred, they exert great control to not unleash the beast at every possible moment nor hold back too often to create boring songs. It’s this great control of balance that makes 10+ minute songs a breeze to listen to and making repeat listens such a pleasure as you will discover multiple nuances each spin.
Going back to the balance in songwriting, it is a pleasure to listen to all the great shifts in each song as they take a non-linear prog rock approach and transition from a chaotic Black Metal passage to a clean singing over a gorgeous guitar lead into an emotionally charged solo to a crushing Death Metal section, etc. And to some this may sound like a jarring, mishmash approach(as often times it is), let me assure you that it is not. Each section is well transitioned and fits with the theme of each song, and those themes are also a high point of the record.
The main theme of Dwellings is about attempting to obtain immortality. Each song tells a story based on this theme, so the way that each section flows into another and each song works with the next creates a fluent feel and overall makes the album feel as one complete entity instead of a collection of songs. Each piece feels as if it has a purpose and belongs where it belongs. The lyrics are also of note as vocalist/bassist has written some powerful words that are neither too abstract nor too direct where they don’t require any thought and insight, again, great balance.
Seeing an independent band like this make such a big impact on the metal realm is quite awesome, and I think everyone should jump on the band-wagon and pick up a copy of Dwellings. While this is an album that all types of metal fans can enjoy, I think that fans of prog metal will get the biggest kick out of it(especially if bands such as Opeth and Agalloch fancy you). So don’t hesitate, head on over to the bands Bandcamp page to give it a listen for yourself and pick up a copy.
P.S. I just would like to note how cool it was of the band to be so helpful when I encountered an ordering problem due to Paypal being a pain in the ass. One of the members took his break at work to help me resolve my problem and ensure that my CD was on its way. Outstanding customer service gentlemen!!