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Rating:
8.8
Cormorant - Earth Diver
8 April 2014


01. Eris
02. Daughter Of Void
03. Sold As A Crow
04. Waking Sleep
05. The Pythia
06. Broken Circle
07. Mark The Trail
08. A Sovereign Act


Few bands have taken melodic death metal so far along a progressive route as Cormorant. These guys are an entirely independent group and their style is adventurous, downright impressive and unparalleled in individuality. Earth Diver is their third effort in a discographical success story, each time they've committed themselves to a release on their own terms they've put out astonishingly creative melodic metal. That is a guarantee which they continually assure.

Every new Cormorant album promises a fresh conglomeration of their sound, another multi-faceted mix of melodic death driven progressive metal pioneered by one of the most distinctive styles I've ever come across. With the line-up change in the loss of vocalist, bassist and lyricist Arthur von Nagel and his replacement by Marcus Luscombe can we expect a continuation of their high quality performance in the studio?

Earth Diver is a most definite yes to that question. I never doubted them for a second, although I did wonder whether the same melody rich and dynamically textured approach to song writing would continue to flow in the way they've always made it; I questioned whether they would continue to tap from the same inspirational spring that just never seemed to run dry for them in the past. Thankfully they do continue to tap their resources to create ambitious metal as always, but there are some changes involved for Earth Diver, as only to be expected I suppose. Things remain both consistent, as well as fresh.

It's honestly very impressive when a band can identify distinct aspects of their sound and focus their attention on them, so as to make them the driving force of a piece of music. This is a mark of artistic ingenuity, as much as it indicates in this case the control over the scope of the progressive patchwork which Cormorant have at their disposal; allowing for beneficial cherry picking of sub-generic facets. Doom and black metal have been selected this time as a directive in the song writing; and it shows generously, as the album benefits from a new and particular mood, a new feel as the band's purposeful change of approach comes to fruition.

The band stated as much, and the band delivered as much. What that tells me is that Cormorant have such a clear understanding of their own sound that they possess the ability to play around with it and make noticeable stylistic changes on a whim without ever erring the integrity of it all. Earth Diver is clear evidence of that.

That's all well and good, but what does it mean in execution, and what effect does it have on the style of this new album? Essentially it means that this is the most focused record they've yet released, and by focused I mean it's something with deliberate intentions. Despite the loss of Arthur and his creative forces in the band, they've pressed on with a goal, which is evident from the outcome. The incorporation of a Slough Feg-esque heavy metal seems to have been all but dropped, so some aspects to their widely ranging sound have been shed, or at least not as clearly highlighted. Track lengths remain long and sweeping providing scenic melodic experiences that never cease to be vivid. The range of sound within individual tunes alone is enough to blow the mind, but Cormorant manage this continually and consistently with each and every track.

Having said that, the mood of Earth Diver is generally downcast with its stronger doom undertones, especially in tracks like "Waking Sleep" or the eleven and a half minute closer "A Sovereign Act," which surely stands as one of the band's finest pieces of song writing. They always know how to finish up an album in spectacular fashion. While this album lacks some of the heavy metal playfulness of Dwellings or the thoroughly folky atmospheric luxuries of Metazoa, it is something of its own, and definitely their most extreme effort in terms of the increased black metal influence. This doesn't quite bring them to Enslaved levels of progressive black metal, but it's a noticeable enough change to their repertoire to distinguish this album from its predecessors. This time the folk vibe isn't quite as vibrant or dynamically represented as I would've hoped, but it does remain a crucial aspect to their style, although it's mostly buried within what is a more congealed and cohesive mix of influences in this album.

As usual the guitar work often carries with it a variable and unique kind of sludge-like texture, comparable to that employed by their fellow Americans, the equally adventurous and eccentric Giant Squid, who aided in some guest performance work back on Metazoa. This element has always lent a distinctive weight to their riffs and adds a particular character to them, which is only enhanced by the shared folk vibe, albeit in rather different stylistic contexts. Cormorant operate with melodic death at the heart of their widely encompassing sound, with all manner of influences coming into play in each of their fascinatingly original studio albums.

The line-up change certainly hasn't fazed the band's creativity one iota, and Earth Diver is another superb addition to Cormorant's continually expanding discography.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Cormorant
Album: Earth Diver


 



Written on 16.04.2014 by
R'Vannith
R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.
More reviews by R'Vannith ››



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Fredd - 17.04.2014 at 03:03  
Nice
Verdun_sc - 17.04.2014 at 05:02  
Can we stop calling this band Melodic Death Metal yet? If anything it's closest to black metal. If you want to be pedantic you can just call it Black/Progressive Metal. Or Black/Heavy...

That said, good record. I feel like I've grown out of this band a little though cause I should like it more than Dwellings, given the expansion on black/doom here. But I just dont find myself interested in the Cormorant sound at the moment, for whatever reason.
Ag Fox - 17.04.2014 at 05:11  
Nice review. I'll check them out
R'Vannith - 17.04.2014 at 06:00  
Written by Verdun_sc on 17.04.2014 at 05:02

Can we stop calling this band Melodic Death Metal yet? If anything it's closest to black metal. If you want to be pedantic you can just call it Black/Progressive Metal. Or Black/Heavy...


Not just yet I think. This is closer to black metal, I would agree, but I don't think they've left melodeath behind.
Stoned Crow - 17.04.2014 at 06:40  
Copied from their bandcamp page: Cormorant play a unique form of progressive black metal, rooted in folk music and 70s hard rock. Melodic Death is also missing from the tags. Regardless- great album and I agree with the score (approximately). The review was decent, although a bit redundant.
R'Vannith - 17.04.2014 at 06:54  
Written by Stoned Crow on 17.04.2014 at 06:40

Copied from their bandcamp page: Cormorant play a unique form of progressive black metal, rooted in folk music and 70s hard rock. Melodic Death is also missing from the tags. Regardless- great album and I agree with the score (approximately). The review was decent, although a bit redundant.


I would advise against taking bandcamp genre tagging to heart, as much as I trust the band's judgements.
PocketMetal - 17.04.2014 at 08:59  
I didn't expect to like it this much, but I guess Cormorant is turning to one of those bands that never disappoint. I'm also not a fan of calling them melodeath because they do not suck. :p
zwitek - 17.04.2014 at 11:45  
I own both of their records in physical format. This is a great band!
And for sure this is not some melodic death metal. Do not misled ppl please.
This is a purely progressive metal work with lots of black metal influences.
Troy Killjoy - 17.04.2014 at 15:28  
Written by R'Vannith on 17.04.2014 at 06:00
This is closer to black metal...

This contradicts the majority of your review, especially this: "Cormorant operate with melodic death at the heart of their widely encompassing sound..."

Not that I care much for genre debates in review threads, but that's what happens sometimes when a band like this incorporates a wide set of influences into their sound.
Schnabeltier 24 - 17.04.2014 at 15:30  
Thanks for the discovery R'Vanith !
Love this album, such a great progression during the songs, and that bass
Will surely check their other albums.
Rodney - 17.04.2014 at 17:40  
I'm no genre expert but I'm pretty baffled by this being called melodic death metal. To my ears this sounds like progressive black metal and pretty obviously so. Heard very little death metal while listening to this, pretty much just a riff here or there.
Panterica - 17.04.2014 at 18:54  
I could only find 2 songs of this album on youtube, but from the little that I've heard it seems good. Let the investigation begin...
mz - 18.04.2014 at 01:54  
Totally forgot about this. Although I got the feeling that after the departure of their vocalist, their music would not be as good as before, this review is very promising. Thanks for the heads up.
R'Vannith - 18.04.2014 at 03:51  
Written by zwitek on 17.04.2014 at 11:45

This is a purely progressive metal work with lots of black metal influences.


The band's sound is progressive metal with melodic death and black metal influences, the latter becoming stronger and even more relevant on this album.
R'Vannith - 18.04.2014 at 03:58  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.04.2014 at 15:28

Written by R'Vannith on 17.04.2014 at 06:00
This is closer to black metal...

This contradicts the majority of your review, especially this: "Cormorant operate with melodic death at the heart of their widely encompassing sound..."

Not that I care much for genre debates in review threads, but that's what happens sometimes when a band like this incorporates a wide set of influences into their sound.


Melodic death metal is still a core element to their sound to my ears, it's closer to black metal in that this element has been emphasised on the album. I can see where I caused confusion with that statement, I'm not saying it's closer to black metal than to melodic death, I'm saying that the progressive sound incorporates melodic death centrally and adopts more black metal influences to give the impression that it moves closer to black metal overall. It's quite arguable whether the black metal actually supersedes the melodeath in this case, and in such an argument I would maintain that melodeath remains the key element.
R'Vannith - 18.04.2014 at 03:59  
Written by Schnabeltier 24 on 17.04.2014 at 15:30

Thanks for the discovery R'Vanith !
Love this album, such a great progression during the songs, and that bass
Will surely check their other albums.


I do miss Arthur's bass work, but I'd say the new gun certainly knows what he's doing.
R'Vannith - 18.04.2014 at 04:05  
Written by Rodney on 17.04.2014 at 17:40

I'm no genre expert but I'm pretty baffled by this being called melodic death metal. To my ears this sounds like progressive black metal and pretty obviously so. Heard very little death metal while listening to this, pretty much just a riff here or there.


When in doubt in identifying the melodic death, probably best to refer to it as progressive metal for ease of mind. The range of elements involved can make it difficult to identify the influence of particular subgenres in any pure form, simply because they aren't always used in a clearly distinguishable sense. The melodeath and black metal are often very intertwined in this when used in the same segments, in my opinion, and with the increased levels of black to it it's actually difficult to make out the melodeath in those instances.

But there are also parts without that strong of a black metal sound, and the melodic death sticks out more obviously to me.
Traezeus - 18.04.2014 at 19:41  
Nice.. I'll have to check this out soon.
Alex Fenger - 19.04.2014 at 18:52  
I don't know why I bothered listening to this album when I know damn well I don't enjoy Cormorant. It sounds pretty much up to par with anything else they've released, so I'm betting most fans won't be disappointed.

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