In Case You Missed It 2017: Cormorant – Diaspora

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Guest reviewer Rolderathis wants to make sure you didn’t miss the latest offering from melodic prog-metallers Cormorant.


The human capacity to create stories—of an afterlife, of the borders of state and country, of the existence of forces inexplicable—constantly shapes the cultural and physical aspects of our world. On their 4th album, Diaspora, SF Bay Area band Cormorant explore the origins and consequences of these narratives across an hour of diverse and dynamic extreme metal.

In the opening track “Preserved in Ash,” listeners are immediately dropped into the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Blastbeats and barbs of guitar dissonance ring out as bassist/vocalist Marcus Luscombe, narrating as a doomed villager, attributes the disaster to a vengeful god: “Explosion, a call from our father’s sphere…Reprisal for sins that we prayed would disappear.” One of Cormorant’s strengths is their knack for telling stories through both lyrics and musical textures, often simultaneously. The chaotic rhythms and layers of riffs convey the panic, the disorientation of being caught in the path of unthinkable disaster, while the lyrics solidify the narrative.

This multifaceted storytelling is woven throughout the album’s 4 long-form tracks. Midway through “Preserved…,” bright barre chords evoke the sun breaking through clouds as survivors of the eruption navigate “through the cracks in the ash.” In “Sentinel,” millenia pass as Ötzi lies forgotten in a glacial tomb, his solitude represented through an extended instrumental interlude (embellished with glockenspiel and cello courtesy of Giant Squid‘s Jackie Perez Gratz).

Cormorant draw from a range of genres to complement the shifting moods in their songs. The strains of traditional, folk, and melodic death metal found on their debut album, Metazoa, are still present, but a latent ferocity has since risen to the surface. Beginning with the addition of Luscombe and the release of Earth Diver in 2014, the band has explored the more caustic side of their sound, with a prominent focus on death and black metal styles. “The Devourer” displays this influence from the start with primitive death metal riffing and Brennan Kunkel’s (reliably) nuanced grooves behind the kit. Matt Solis’ bellows have taken on a more central role since they first appeared on Earth Diver, and along with Luscombe, his vocals have improved on this release. Their call-and-response verses keep monotony at bay and showcase performances both muscular and emotive.

The album closes with “Migration,” a track that combines old and new elements of Cormorant’s sound to recount the doctrine of manifest destiny. Over the course of its 26-minute runtime, the song shifts through various viewpoints and genres. Funeral doom riffs crawl by, their weight evocative of the great distances traveled, the lives lost, the futures crushed under wagon wheels. When the perspective changes to that of the American pioneers, the music follows suit: dual guitar melodies and double kick drums convey their optimism and movement across the plains. Pompous rock riffs display the arrogance of these settlers, their voices declaring “with God as my witness, I claim this as mine.”

Thousands of years after scholars first inscribed their clay tablets, the purpose of storytelling remains largely unchanged: to transport, to teach, to remember. On Diaspora, together with Jeff Christensen’s surreal artwork and the clear, compact mix from Greg Wilkinson (at his Earhammer Studios in Oakland), Cormorant succeed in their goal—enveloping their audience in myths both ancient and contemporary.

Cormorant’s Diaspora Receives 4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Pick up Diaspora from Cormorant’s Bandcamp page.


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  • Howard Dean

    That cover art is friggin’ cool. Would buy just for that.

    Nice review, brother! In your honor I’m gonna go pound a 32 oz Dr Pepper with added cherry and vanilla flavor syrup courtesy of my Cumberland Farms Chill Zone! Byaaaahhhh!

    • Rolderathis

      Ty sir. Just make sure the ice isn’t gigantic crack rocks.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Great review.
    For some reason I never really got into the band’s music. Don’t really know why, but it just doesn’t seem to click. Their album covers are amazing though.
    It’s not that I downright dislike them and listening to this album wasn’t really an unpleasant experience either (as opposed to that recent Nope Obliviscaris record).

    • Rolderathis

      I’ve only heard Portal of I, and from that album, I only really like the song “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope.” I felt really pretentious just typing that purple prose nonsense lol.

      Do you have a fav of the Cormorant albums you’ve heard? The most common complaints I’ve heard are that people think the songs on Dwellings don’t have endings (WRONG) and that the production on Earth Diver is too hot and clips a little bit.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Metazoa probably still is the album by them I dig the most. I guess it has to do with the fact I remember being completely in awe of that album’s cover art in a “holy shit I gotta hear this album” way when it came out. Then when I finally heard the album I was slightly underwhelmed, but it’s definitely not bad.

        • GrumpDumpus

          BASED ON THE ART I EXPECTED LOTS OF WEIRD TIME SIGNATURES THIS IS ALSO HAPPENS FOR ALL PAOLO GIARDI PAINTINGS

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Great review! I’ve not listened to this band before although I know I thought I should a while ago because birds are awesome. Like, they use hollow bones to propel themselves through air! That’s some quality animaling. Anyhow this first track is pretty promising. Fierce, epic, and I can just tell repeat listens will yield up interesting nooks and crannies.

    Artwork is a little too blatantly Dali/Bosch for an original piece I reckon. Neat and all, but yeah…

    • Rolderathis

      Definitely a grower 😉 Like with most of their albums, I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but months later, I’m still picking up nuances (especially with the drums) and my favorite song keeps changing.

      I find that with any dense album, I’m usually kind of disappointed at first, but if there’s even a little bit of my brain pushing me to give it another shot, I try to let it sink in.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    Good job. Note to editor: two spaces after full stop is never acceptable. Never use two spaces after full stop. Thank you.

  • GIMME *burp* BEER

    NOW THIS IS SOME TASTY SHIT *burp*.
    PAIR THIS WITH SOME TRAPPISTES ROCHEFORT 10’S* AND YOU BE IN THE MUSIC NOT JUST HEARING IT!

    *burp*
    * YOU THOUGHT I’D SAY COORS LITE OR SOME DUMB SHIT?! DRINK REAL BEER, BABY!