Cormorant

Dwellings

01. The First Man
02. Funambulist
03. Confusion of Tongues
04. Junta
05. The Purest Land
06. A Howling Dust
07. Unearthly Dreamings

[12/06/11]
[Self-released]

With winter approaching and the end of the year in sight, new releases are beginning to slow to crawl with only a few significant releases yet to see the light of day before the calender turns. This could be due to a number of reasons from holiday downtime to fewer available resources, but the infamously DIY Bay Area blackened progressive metal band Cormorant‘s late entry for the year will no doubt benefit them, as their sophomore album Dwellings will no doubt go down as the last great album of 2011.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but Cormorant are a band that has been absolutely making waves in these last few years due to their strong DIY-spirit and active internet presence. It’s as if you couldn’t avoid finding a metal-oriented site that wasn’t graced by frontman & bassist Arthur von Nagel’s enthusiastic and thought-provoking interviews and columns (he once even had a column on Metalsucks). If you don’t like the band’s music, the band certainly commands respect for their spirit and intelligence.

Speaking of, that’s a word that can adequately describe Dwellings — intelligent. Cormorant are a breed of progressive metal that pulls from more traditional (read: tr00/kvlt) sources than what we typically feature here on Heavy Blog. For the unfamiliar, Cormorant are akin to the likes of Agalloch and Enslaved in their prog leanings, unafraid to experiment with a myriad of genres and colors to create something diverse and adventurous, from subtle shades of folk to wide strokes of black, death, and doom metal (and pretty much anything in between, really).

How does Dwellings stack up against their critically acclaimed debut Metazoa? Cormorant have expanded upon their established sound while exploring some new ground. While Dwellings promised and delivers a darker tone, Cormorant kicked their melodic flair up a couple of notches in ways I never expected. The stand-out tracks “Funambulist” and “Junta” both play with vaguely post-metal sounds and atmospheric instrumental sections that are absolutely haunting. Arthur’s vocals have also seen quite an improvement in just about every department. His delivery is as diverse as the music, with more visceral and intense screaming all around. The clean singing (performed by guitarist Matt Solis and drummer Brennan Kunkel) is also more proficient this time around, with wistful harmonies reminiscent of Intronaut‘s latest opus The Valley Of Smoke or even Alice in Chains popping up throughout Dwellings.

Of course, they haven’t gone entirely soft. Their core sound is entirely intact with swathes of traditional metal, black metal, and melodeth in a mix of intense and triumphant riff and lead-heavy jams, focusing less on their folk influences and more on their darker metallic side. While Metazoa had many acoustic passages with string instruments, Dwellings is much more gritty overall, with a raw and earthy production that compliments this focus. Take for instance, the track “The Purest Land” is a perfect example of how intimidating the group can get, with furious blackened death tenacity.

Varied and diverse in its nearly hour-long runtime, Dwellings is most definitely one of this year’s many highlights. These bay area metallers are making sure we go out with a bang in a time where releases are slow and sparse—right when we need them the most!

Cormorant – Dwellings gets…

4.5/5

– JR

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