Apr 202018


(Andy Synn returns to his irregular series devoted to things that come in five’s, the focus of this one being metal album art.)

The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” was obviously uttered by someone who’d never found themselves stranded in a busy bookshop and frozen by indecision over which of the many, many options to spend their hard-earned cash on.

Of course while I agree with the sentiment in principle – style is no substitute for substance after all, and a shiny package is no guarantee of superior contents – the truth is that human beings are very visual creatures, and an eye-catching cover, one which hints at the themes and manifest delights contained within, can be the difference between finding a new reader and being consigned to the bottom of the bargain bin at the end of the month.

The same obviously applies when we’re talking about albums too. Yes, the move towards a primarily digital market has had an impact on the means and methodology behind how new albums are accessed and presented (though apparently physical sales have been rebounding quite a bit recently), but the importance of good album art still shouldn’t be understated. Continue reading »

Aug 092017


On August 11, Cormorant will release their new album Disapora. We are fortunate to bring you the premiere of a full album stream today, preceded by a review of the album by Andy Synn.


Let’s begin this review with a quick history lesson, shall we?

Back in 2012, shortly after the release of the band’s stunning second album, Dwellings, long-time Cormorant bassist/vocalist Arthur von Nagel elected to leave the band to pursue a career in video-game design.

Although this parting of ways was entirely amicable, many fans were understandably concerned that the loss of von Nagel’s distinctive voice and signature bass sound would undercut the band’s growing momentum and still-burgeoning creative potential.

Thankfully, 2014’s Earth Diver – which saw the debut of new frontman Marcus Luscombequickly put to rest any lingering doubts and fears about the band’s future, repositioning the group as a much more overtly “blackened” affair, and proving that change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Now, three years later, it seems the quartet are set to raise the bar even further with what is, quite possibly, their most extravagant and ambitious album yet. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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) Continue reading »

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.


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: Continue reading »

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.


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!” Continue reading »

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).”  Continue reading »

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.


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: Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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.


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.


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.” Continue reading »