Having heard rumblings of Cormorant’s coolness, I was eagerly anticipating hearing Metazoa in its entirety and learning what the San Francisco-based progressive metal group could do. What I found was one of the best bands underground metal has to offer and one of the most worthwhile albums of the year. Period.
Lots of bands include elements of folk music into their metal that usually manifest in cool, but totally un-metal parts with no distortion or screaming. While Cormorant’s debut LP, Metazoa, does include clean vocals, cello, mandolin and acoustic guitar; the most striking part about the record is the use of major keys and inclusion of folk-influences amid full-metal slaughter.
Cormorant takes everything you’ve ever heard in melodic metal and does it really, really well. Riffs never sound rehashed, solos are bluesy and epic but not self-serving, while the quiet parts are interesting, diverse and meaningful to each song.
Lyrics play a huge part on the album as well. Though vocalist/bassist Arthur von Nagel utilizes black or death metal screams and growls through most of the album, the poetry and romanticism of his lyrics is not lost on the listener, even if one cannot understand all of the words.
Metazoa is as glorious and panoramic as its name suggests. With it, Cormorant has created an album that is more than just 10 songs, one after another; it is a comprehensive and cinematic work, a musical exploration with no regard for the trappings of style or genre and a landmark in the career of a band that every fan of extreme music should come to know.