Apr 222014

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Cormorant.)

Prog-metal pirates Cormorant have never been ones to shy away from change. Heck, their entire career thus far has been one of slow evolution, from their early beginnings with 2007’s The Last Tree, through the attention-grabbing Metazoa, up to 2011’s game-changing Dwellings.

Coming in the wake of the departure of bassist/vocalist Arthur von Nagel, and his replacement with the similarly talented Marcus Lusbombe, it seems change is still in the air for the group. Earth Diver betrays a fundamentally more blackened edge, expanding and exploring the limits of Cormorant’s established sound, landing somewhere between the prog-death magic of Edge of Sanity and the folk-tinged black metal of Drudkh, but with a style and a flair all its own.

Is it a perfect album? No. But perfection is overrated. Perfection is stagnation. Rather, Earth Diver functions as a prime example of raw passion and creativity, growth and change, the sound of a band unafraid to take chances, to experiment, interweaving tone and texture, interbreeding influence and imagination… pursuing progression in the truest sense of the word.

Jan 272014

(Here’s another installment of Andy Synn’s irregular series devoted to his favorite things that come in fives. Seems like a good occasion to sound off on what you’re looking forward to as well, so please leave Comments.)

Now this is an easy one… and a hard one… to write.

Easy… because there are SO many awesome albums coming out this year to choose from.

Hard… because there are TOO many awesome albums coming out this year to choose from!

Still, here’s a selection of five to whet your appetite. (Note – some nepotism involved)

Oct 222013

I’m going to make this little round-up short. I’ve been trying to catch up on reviews today instead of the usual hours spent surfing my in-box and the interhole for new discoveries. But I did notice these items that you might have missed.

INQUISITION

Seems like we’ve been posting about every little thing that has emerged in the run-up to release of Inquisition’s new album, Obscure Verses For the Multiverse, because it is shaping up to be one of 2013’s true highlights. But today’s development is the biggest event yet: The entire album is now streaming on Bandcamp, where’s it’s also available for purchase in various formats (the official release is October 24). And because it’s on Bandcamp, we can put it . . . right . . . HERE:

Sep 262013

So many bands are trying to raise money through crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Some of them deserve a helping hand. I’ll tell you about two that I think deserve your help, because I like both bands and really hope your money will enable them to get their new music in a form suitable to send to me so that I can have it. In fact, I can think of few betters uses for your money, unless of course you’d prefer to just send it directly to me. If that sounds good, hit me up.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, two bands I hope you will help finance, for me.

CORMORANT

Contrary to early speculation, the departure of vocalist/bassist Arthur von Nagel did not put an end to Cormorant. In fact, they just finished tracking their third album to analog tape with engineer/producer Justin Weis (Slough Feg, Agalloch, Hammers of Misfortune, Ludicra), having first supplemented their remaining line-up through the addition of Marcus Luscombe, who has become the new bassist and lead vocalist.

Luscombe is an Australian-born San Francisco Bay Area native who has been lead guitarist, songwriter, and backing vocalist for for a band named Vengince and lead singer, lyricist, and guitarist for another band named Cloakwheel. According to Cormorant, “His unique stylings and weird, proggy bass lines have added new elements to the Cormorant sound, and we can’t wait for you to hear how he sounds on the album!”

Jun 122013

I was extremely disappointed to learn last fall that Arthur Von Nagel had (amicably) parted ways with Cormorant to pursue a career in the video-gaming business (details reported here). That band was a powerfully talented collective, and Arthur was unquestionably a key part of its appeal. On the other hand, Cormorant encompassed a lot of other talents, too — and now the band are on their way back with a new vocalist and a new album.

As reported here within the last hour, Cormorant are preparing to enter Trakworx Studio in South San Francisco this coming September to record the follow-up to 2011’s remarkable Dwellings, and the new album is projected for release in late 2013 or early next year.

According to that same press release, “the band’s third LP will further explore the black metal and doom influences found on Dwellings and will also mark the first appearance of new bassist/vocalist Marcus Luscombe (VENGINCE, ex-CLOAKWHEEL).” 

Nov 132012

This post brings some good news and some sad news. On the positive front, we have a new song from Ovid’s Withering. On the sad front, we’ve just learned that Arthur Von Nagel is leaving Cormorant.

OVID’S WITHERING

We’ve been following this Florida band ever since they released their debut EP, The Cloud Gatherer, last spring (reviewed at NCS here). Ovid’s Withering are now working on their first album and they’ve recently released one of its tracks for streaming and “pay what you want” download on Bandcamp (here).

The song is named “The Reckoning. The Summoning. The Purge”. As described by the band: “This is part of a 5 song concept that will be on our full-length album. The story follows Pan, who is engrossed with the idea of cleansing the world. This is Part II, where he kidnaps Anesidora from her lover, Prometheus.” This part of the story line is reflected in the lyrics and described in detail on Bandcamp.

TheMadIsraeli, who first made me aware of the new song, gives us this introduction to the new music:

Aug 112012

As if there weren’t already enough reasons for metal bands to set up camp on Bandcamp, there’s now one more.

On August 1, Bandcamp launched new functionality that allows bands to create a separate, dedicated merch section for their site, through which they can offer shirts, posters, and other shit indepenently of the music. But it also allows bands to create music+merch bundles, and it allows checkout through the same shopping-cart function that exists for music.

The merch sections can be tabbed in the navigation bar at the top of the band’s Bandcamp page — though I suspect fans will need a bit of training to realize it’s there. Bandcamp is also planning to have the merch feature added to the Bandcamp app that can be integrated with Facebook, so merch sales can be processed directly from within the Facebook band page.

Yes, Bandcamp will take 10% of the revenue, but they’ve got some pretty reasonable-sounding arguments about why bands will still make more money using Bandcamp for merch orders than standalone sites.

And while I’m on the subject of Bandcamp, it’s worth mentioning that a couple of months ago they rolled out a Discover feature that allows fans to browse for music by genre. The “Metal” category is further sub-divided into “new arrivals”, “best selling”, and “artist-recommended”. The “artist-recommended” category is further sub-divided in a way that allows you to see the albums most-recommended by artists. When you click on an album cover in these sections, you get to hear a sample track immediately, without leaving the Discover page.

Jul 192012

Still plagued by the annoying intrusions of non-metal life (fuck non-metal life), your stupid friends at NCS have nevertheless found time to gather a few recent items of interest for your amusement and edification.

ITEM ONE

First item is above, presented to you as a public service, rather than because of my usual self-centered interests, since this tour isn’t coming remotely close to Seattle. But any U.S. tour involving both Primordial and Cormorant is by definition newsworthy. I don’t know While Heaven Wept, but they must at least be interesting or they wouldn’t be along for this ride.

Do pay close attention to the little asterisks, since not all bands will be at all dates.

ITEM TWO

The next item is also a tour announcement that also happens to be in September and also happens to include Cormorant (look closely at the dates for Sept 16-20 on the following poster) and also happens to be by-passing Seattle. On this tour, the headliners will be YOB and a band called Norska, which features YOB bass player Aaron Rieseberg and his brother Dustin and is described as a “progressive tech-sludge rock band.”

Mar 262012

Earlier this month, Andy Synn passed his 18-month anniversary as a writer for NCS. His first post was a review of Dimmu Borgir’s Abrahadabra album. In all that time, Andy has rarely mentioned that in addition to writing about metal, he is also the vocalist for a UK metal band called Bloodguard. Maybe it’s that famous British reserve, or perhaps it’s because Andy is a gentleman and a scholar in addition to being a writer and a howler. I, however, am not limited by good manners or any sense of humility, and I have some news about Bloodguard that needs to be spread like the plague.

First, the band have now set the official track-listing for their debut album, Patterns In The Infinite, and this is it:

1. Eye Of The Paradox
2. Vanguard
3. Footsteps (Of The Dead)
4. Our Lady Of The Flood
5. Black Math Ritual
6. Panopticon
7. Final Prayer
8. Bridgeburner

After the jump, you’ll find an album preview video that will give you a taste of what the songs sound like in their unmixed form, although the order of the samples in the video doesn’t match the track-listing. But first, there’s even bigger news, because I’ve discovered from Andy the identities of five guests whose talents will be enhancing Bloodguard’s new album — and it’s quite an exciting list: Arthur von Nagle (Cormorant), Michiel Dekker and Ivo Hilgenkamp (The Monolith Deathcult), Seth Hecox (Becoming the Archetype), and Demonstealer (Demonic Resurrection).

Dec 222011

(Yesterday, BadWolf revealed 19 of his Top 20 albums of 2011. Today, he unveils his No. 1 album of 2011 and interviews the top band’s vocalist/bassist/lyricist, Arthur Von Nagel.)

Cormorant’s Dwellings secured my Album of the Year status on the first listen. It’s a staggering achievement, one I’ve already covered in depth on this site [here].

In the following celebratory interview, Cormorant bassist/lyricist/vocalist Arthur Von Nagel broke down a few of Dwellings’ tracks, talked about Cormorant’s future, dished about his recent engagement (congratulations!), hinted to Cormorant’s touring(ish) future, and even dropped some super-kvlt metal recommendations.

BWHow are you, my man?

Cormorant:  I’m doing very well, yourself?  I’m on cloud nine this whole week.

BWI bet you are, you lucky dog. Successful engagement, oodles of critical acclaim. You’re having ‘the best week ever.’

Cormorant:  The engagement was beautiful.  And yeah I’m really glad that so many people are enjoying the album.  The band Timeghoul just wrote to us to congratulate us on the album and then I died happy. These dudes are my heroes, you know?  It’s really an honor.  And then NPR list us with all these bands we look up to and have been influenced by.  It’s just fantastic and I can’t thank everyone enough for the kind words and support.  This album was a labor of love.

BWYou can totally hear that. On both of them, I think. Well, know not think.

Cormorant:  Haha, well Metazoa was a different animal.  It was a more hopeful and excited record. Dwellings is just bleak in comparison.

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