Last year, during an interview for a studio report intended for publication in another publication, Cormorant guitarist, Matt Solis mentioned that the directional tack the band took during the writing of their latest and fourth album was, in part, inspired by both the attitude and sound of classic Rush. Granted, there are a fair number of non-Canadians involved in the creation of this particular corner of the interhole, but at its heart, PureGrainAudio proudly bleeds red and white, uses hockey sticks as sex toys, and pours maple over everything.
To infer Rush was going to play a role in Diaspora….well, in addition to putting all sorts of pressure on drummer Brennan Kunkel to create a performance worthy of opening up the air-drumming floodgates, we should see it in our wisdom to bestow these Trump dodgers from liberal San Francisco honourary citizenship. As an added bonus, as it pertains to my personal preferences, the surreal scenario on the album’s cover and depiction of horses not dissimilar to Salvador Dali’s spider-legged elephants opens a whole new world of goodness and acceptance, if not all out worship, of their creative endeavour.
As luck would have it, the warm, wet feelings provided by Diaspora’s pre-game details carried over into the main feature. The album is officially only four songs, but know that the shortest track, (“The Devourer”) is seven minutes long with album closer “Migration” clocking in at a whopping twenty-six! This, you can surmise, means that while there may be four moments where some amount of silence exists between four pieces of music, there’s a countless number of ideas, riffs and musical ephemera comprising this record. There are swift volleys between harsh, black metal banshee vocals and furrow-browed clean singing; the dynamism the band employs sling-shots from post-rock tranquility, where counterpoint collisions of Metallica’s classic ballads and Explosions in the Sky/Mogwai-esque instrumentalism lead into fiery blast-beating that signal that the pits of hell are set to open and wreak havoc on mankind by swallowing up swathes of land, setting churches aflame and drying up all known sources of alcohol production.
At its heart, Cormorant hails from the extreme metal end of the musical spectrum the same way a band like Panopticon does. In that sense, touches of the heavier bands they take inspiration from, like older Opeth, Enslaved and Satyricon, along with local pals Hammers of Misfortune and Ludicra, co-mingle with the subdued likes of The Tangent and Porcupine Tree before being filtered through the nebulousness of King Crimson and, of course, Rush. At times, it’s a little overwrought and self-indulgent – name a 26 minute track that isn’t – but it’s undoubtedly adventurous, especially when they utilise massive thunder claps of chords and pounding drums the align “Preserved in Ash” with Neurosis and Inter Arma and stir smooth melodies and caustic bellowing into the mix. Definitely a record listeners will discover new elements on with every spin.
Diaspora Track Listing:
01. Preserved in Ash
03. The Devourer
Run Time: 60:39
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Check out the single “The Devourer”