Released last year independently and now more recently distributed by Saturnine Media, California’s Cormorant has released a stunning melodic death metal album that that’s adventurous, ambitious and brilliant.

I’ve seen the likes of In Flames, Opeth and Slough Feg mentioned in reference to this band due to the prevalence of melodic riffage, heavy metal backbone, long varied songs, mix of heavy/light progressives textures and loose, organic, folk elements. And while those are all viable comparisons, I’d also like to throw in Arghoslent (production, loose and gruff but superbly melodic riffage) and Sculptured’s The Spear of the Lily Is Aureoled as a very heavy influence I hear in Metazoa. Just some of the moods and progressively melodic and jangly, experimetnal, but still death metal and off kilter structures kept recalling that album (minus the trumpets) for me.

Either way, Metazoa is game changer and another album I wish I had heard earlier so I could have included it in my year end submissions. 7 minute opener “Scavenger’s Feast” is pretty much encapsulates Cormorant’s sound with a delicate intro, bouncy main riff, gorgeous mid song solo/break and a nice acoustic bridge. Second track “Uneasy Lies the Head” after some gruff rumbling delivers one of the catchiest, bounciest riffs I have heard in a while and then throws in some almost Viking beer hall choirs and mid song romp and some classic wailing old school heavy metal solos. And that’s just the albums first two brilliant songs.

“Salt of the Earth” shows some of the cracks of inexperience though as its dreamy opening sequence is slightly marred by some weak clean vocals (though the other array of deep bellows rasp and screams are adequate, the vocals are a bit of a weak link), though the track does pick up and enter into more recognizable Opeth-ian peaks and valleys. “Blood On the Cornfields” starts oddly, with a bouncy heavy/power metal pace (Arghoslent really came to mind here) mixed with rough vocals, but as a whole track the various moments that arise, especially the raucous mid song canter.

The languid 10 minute “Hanging Gardens” starts off as a shimmery post rock number, has a long acoustic/sung mid section, some orchestration and a doom break, but in truth has a little too much going on to be a memorable track. However, “The Crossings” returns to more direct, somber yet supine melodies (some of the albums best actually). Unfortunately, the jumbled “Hole on the Sea” displays the vocal issues again but “The Emigrants Wake” fixes things with a killer melodic lurch but more weak vocals mar it a bit. The thing is, they nail the clean vocals in the ballad “Sky Burial”.

Granted, at 70 minutes the album does tend to loses some of its staying power for the more ADD metal heads, and the Billy Anderson production, though intentionally organic and raw saps some of the energy (especially the vocals), but for those with the patience, Metazoa is truly breathtaking experience and a breath of fresh air to American metal from an immensely promising band.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 19th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Infinite Death

    Yessssssssssss so great to see Cormorant up on this website. Excellent review Erik, although I can’t say I have any problems with the clean vocals. I don’t really have any problems with this album at all, really hahahah. Best tiberian ass bastard folk I’ve ever heard. Am greatly anticipating what they put out in the future, as Metazoa is an immense work of art (not to mention that stunning album artwork!)

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