Dreadnought are certainly one of those bands you can never judge the book by its proverbial cover or in this case the name of the band. When you peel away the cover and begin to peel the layers back it is a a Melodic Christmas over and over and over again. This band have their own Periodic Table of Elements as far as music is concerned. My goal for this review will to elaborate the multiple elements in a very conclusive way without boring the reader of the review.
When I use to live in Denver, Colorado back in the later 1990’s, I began to notice just how utterly diverse the entire I-25 corridor was as far as music was concerned. One day you could be in Denver at a metal show, the next day be out in Boulder, Colorado at a ‘Jam Band’ style festival and a day after that be in Colorado Springs, Colorado at some ‘Alternative Music’ show. It seems Denver is one of the few areas that allow for such diversity in the music and arts to breathe and flourish without much persecution. It has always seemed that the Denver, Colorado area has been able to really coexist as far as musical genres have been concerned.
Denver natives Dreadnought have certainly embraced this attitude of diversity within their music and art. They have taken many various elements within music to truly form their own unique sound. At first glance or listen many questions come to the surface that could leave some to pigeonhole this band in one particular genre or another. However listener beware this band are totally adamant that they will never be pigeonholed at all whatsoever. So it leads to the pressing questions, who are Dreadnought and what style are they?
Is this band Black Metal? Are they Avant Garde? Are they progressive metal/rock? I would have to say they are all that a a whole lot more. Dreadnought are on the very new vanguard of a all new intelligentsia cropping up among several genres that seem to get closer together as time and music evolves. For a band with only four members they give the listener the appearance that there is a entire symphony orchestra to accompany them. Dreadnought are also coming along at a perfect time where many genres are embracing various elements of one another and allowing the melting pot to cook to perfection.
Dreadnought’s approach to the progressive music side is rooted very heavily within the 1970’s and spans nearly three generations. Dreadnought are also a band that constantly changes the questions when people believe they have all the answers concerning the band. Over the remaining duration of this review I will point out many of the various elements that make up the Dreadnought sound. Vacant Sea begins with a beautifully isolated female vocal that creates a atmosphere to the listener in attempt to gain their undivided attention. This soon subsides and the beauty of percussion enters in along with a profound rhythm section before the female vocal comes into a harmonic bliss with the instrumental portion. The progressive aspect of this is rooted within the 1970’s in the tradition of Yes, King Crimson and ELP. The jazz style sections are a reminder of bands like Jaco Pastorius era – Weather Report with various elements of Caravan and Camel.
The Black Metal aesthetic runs in the tradition of both old school low fi resolution sounding guitar atmospheres in the tradition of early Mayhem, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. It is also met by some heavily laden Atmospheric Black Metal much like Agalloch and Summoning come to mind along with some elements of both Shoegaze and Blagaze. All of this is much like a marriage of sounds along side with with very intricate time signatures and various chord progressions make for a very unique sound that separates Dreadnought into their own unique and independent sound.
The duel female vocal between Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals and Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals is definitely something groundbreaking within all the various musical genres present on the album. They have taken what Cadaveria (ex Opera IX) did to a entire creative level. These two ladies have also brought something to this style of Progressive Extreme Metal and that being a singer/songwriter element to the genre. Vacant Sea immediately dives into all these elements.
This track may be 17+ minutes but rest assured the long instrumental parts have a specific purpose and mean something and lead somewhere. Dreadnought are not the type of band to have insignificant fillers just for the sake of making the length of time rendering the song to appear redundant.
(Dreadnought – Vacant Sea – A Wake In Sacred Waves)
Within Chanting Waters opens up much in the vein of Opeth’s Leper Infinity from Blackwater Park meets Agalloch’s The Mantle with a twist of early King Crimson. The rhythm section of bass and drum really rips from the very first note and chord progression. The band certainly and deliberately are taking their sound to the next level and showing various depths of dimensions with this one. The band certainly displays their progressive prowess here as far as incorporating chord progressions and time signatures that sometimes get drowned out with the more extreme elements. The clean female vocal and the extreme metal vocal allow the track to breathe in such away where both vocals appear to take on a split personality to the central story. In the mind’s imagination it seems like there is a calm and angry side being conveyed in the vocal. Jordan Clancy – Drums, Alto/Tenor Saxophone, has a very keen sense of how hard to hit the drums and when to fall into the general rhythmic background. The band also display the very prowess of engulfing the listener into their various layers of diverse atmospheric elements.
The Luminous Scale immediately opens up into a very diverse progressive atmospheric chord progression. The deep tones of the rhythm section along with the semi – atmospheric guitar certainly hook the listener into a mellow disposition. This is a preparing the listener for the duration of the album. Throughout the album the band’s chord progressions, passages and riffs all have a unique purpose that deliberately lead somewhere. There is absolutely no insignificant filler anywhere on the album. The keyboards really have a distinct presence on here as well. Those are beautifully done by Lauren Vieira – Keys, Clean Vocals. Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals has a very heavily Summoning style vocal on here as well. They both echo and haunt the listener’s very soul and hook it all at once. The rhythm section totally engulfs and assault’s every last sense within in the listening audience. The flute in this track as a very Jethro Tull to Camel vibe stemming from 1970’s progressive rock. Kelly Schilling – Guitar, Flute, Clean and Harsh Vocals, is certainly the Black Metal equivalent of Ian Anderson or various flute players in the history of the band Camel.
A Drifting Reign explodes right out of the gate with deep rhythm sections along with a beautifully played lush piano chord progression. It takes a break and the band sets a deep atmospheric rhythm section between various layers of piano and horned sections that is quite psychedelic in nature. The subtle psychedelic elements are also blended with very lite post metal elements as well. This is the final track on the album. This is also the most eclectic and eccentric track on the album blending many of the bands never ending elements and talent together like a progressive buffet feast on the ears.
By now it is perfectly clear they refuse to be pigeonholed into one genre. It is this approach and attitude that will allow the band to play live on various and very different bills and festivals. Their infrastructure will also allow them the creative space to do what they want and what their fans want instead of a power hungry and a monetary beast with the mainstream side of the industry that is a continual disease to artists and creativity. Dreadnought’s A Wake In Sacred Waves will be a album talked about 20 years from now as a album that both expanded progressive music and exposed further possibilities that display that progressive music will always have many directions to go in. Dreadnought’s A Wake In Sacred Waves get a 5/5 for perfection.
Cormorant seem to be a MelodicThree-Headed Beast with three very distinctive personalities in the progressive black metal community. First personality of this Three-Headed Beastis doom metal. Cormorant has certainly honoured the true essence of heavy metal with its doom metal element. They have incorporated the sound of early Black Sabbath with other doom metal pioneers such as Trouble, Candlemass, Witchfinder General, Kyuss, Solitude Aternus, TYR and Electric Wizard.
The second personality and head of this beast is that of Black Metal. The Black Metal personality reflected on here is a balance between the First Wave Of Black Metal or FWOBM. and Modern or Norwegian Black Metal. The bands reflected within the Black Metal personality are Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer with the more modern Black Metal of bands like Satyricon, Enslaved, Darkthrone, Emperor, Ihshan and Agalloch.
The third and final headed personality lies within both progressive rock and progressive metal. Within the personality of progressive rock it is more 1970’s based with some influences of King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Frank Zappa,Mahavishnu Orchestra and Uriah Heep. The progressive metal influences that complete the Progressive head and personality are bands like Rush, Opeth, Gojira, Savatage, Voi Vod, and Tool. Therefore the band has a very deep well into which to draw from.
The deep well of all those influences I just mentioned above certainly do come through on Cormorant’s Diaspora. First of all as many who follow this particular brand genre of progressive deathy black metal know that when Opeth discontinued using growls and Agalloch finally called it quits it left a void in the community. A band like Cormorant is a band that totally redeems that quality of progressive metal with the their own perspective on it. Second Cormrorant understand the demand of that genre brand of progressive metal and absolutely have a endless supply of various elements that make up that brand of extreme progressive black metal and I will point that out throughout this review. Cormorant’s Disapora also demonstrates progressive rock/metal’s continuous vast growth into many areas of hard rock, post rock and heavy metal. Now a look into the four tracks of Cormorant’s Disapora.
Preserved In Ash begins with a blistering bombardment of serious double blast beat drums and deep bass rhythmic tones. Soon a brutal low fi guitar chord progression enters in alongside the brutal blackened death growls. The lead blackened vocals are executed pitch perfect by Marcus Luscombe – Bass/Lead Vocals and are met in perfect harmony with the death growls executed perfectly by Brennan Kunkel – Drums/Vocals and Matt Solis – Guitars/Vocals. There is also a dual guitar dynamic where there is the low fi black metal style of guitar that is met in melody and harmony with the 1970’s style lead progressive doom chord progression. This demonstrates the bands ability to execute various guitar styles at once allowing for various melody and elements into the music without overwhelming or boring the listener with something that sounds like the same thing over and over. The rhythm section anchors the dual guitar dynamic into a tight cohesive chord progression that serves as a steering element to the track. Around the 4:00 mark the track tunes down a bit. There is certainly a method to the bands sheer madness on the opening track that starts to set up the duration of the album. Around the 7:30 mark the band really takes the track into a very abyssic tuned down chord progression exchange with solo’s trading back and forth. When the death growls finally come back in they are more of a deathy doom metal style.
Sentinel continues to bruise and blister the senses of the listener. This track opens up with a slant towards My Dying Bride, Novembers Doom and early-Anathema meets a Morningrise and Blackwater Park era’s Opeth. The guitars and rhythm sections are really tuned down with sheer brutality alongside the deep pounding death growl that plays perfectly off of the rhythm section that anchors the track. This is another epic clocking in at 15:51. Their is a harmonious exchange of both death growls and black metal screams before the track takes a Trouble doom metal style chord progression instrumentally with a Emperor style of black metal scream. The track takes on some progressive groove metal laden rhythm progressions that move it along seamlessly. The fact that the band have a dual guitar brings a lot of rhythmic depth to the track. There are also some clean vocal harmonies in and out as the song progresses.
The deep bass/drum section is seriously in the tradition of Trouble, Candlemass and Paradise Lost with a later-Enslaved and later-Carcass style vocal. There are parts where the twin guitar sound a DEATH Leprosy and Symbolicera’s with how they exchange various chords and riffs. Once again you have both a black metal vocal and a death metal style of vocal interchanging off and on of one another. About the 7:00 mark the track takes on some heavily semi electric semi acoustical guitar chord progressions that remind me a lot of Agalloch’s 2002 classic The Mantle. These guitar sections are engineered so smoothly with layers upon layers of various harmonious progressions that create tightly knit passages. These guitar progressions are rooted heavily into 1970’s progressive rock as well. The clean vocals remind me a lot of Opeth’sFace Of Melinda off of Still Life.
The Devourer is a blistering track that reminds me a lot of Opeth’s My Arms Your Hearse era progressive death metal. This has a heavy respect in the tradition of Demon Of The Fall. The death metal style growls remind me a lot of ex-Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist David Vincent. This track is the shortest track on the album at only 7:50. It is still full of killer quality progressive up tempo riffs and deep bass/drum backbone in the rhythm section. The blackened metal vocals has a heavy Darkthrone influence. The clean vocal sections are serious Candlemass meets Cathedral influence.
Migration is a 26:00+ epic that completely comes in the tradition of a Agalloch’s Faustian Echoes meets Opeth’s Black Rose Immortal with a twist of Averse Aubes Cendrées. It opens up with heavy guitar atmospheric and percussive effects. It is not very long before the track goes into a more progressive and blistering direction. The deep doom style chord progressions plus the death metal growls really give you the appearance of a true brooding track that assaults the listener’s senses evey which way. The way the band stretches out the first minutes of the track certainly is a commentary on what the band’s main objective is on this track. Migration works in three major stages that carries the listener into a brutal epic journey of various doom, progressive, black and death metal elements. The exchanges between the death metal growls and the black metal screams seem to be a signature sound for the band. They certainly give the band a distinct and unique sound in a genre of music that most people continue to misunderstand. It is in that misunderstanding that Cormorant bring a sense of sheer clarity even to the outsider to this music.
The band has a point in the track where they really create a bleak and dark atmosphere with just some heavy acoustic guitars and percussion portions. The acoustical portions remind me a lot of Agalloch’s The Mantle meets Opeth’s Damnation with a 1970’s Alan Holdsworth/Robert Fripp twist. The 1970’s elements have been really heavily induced throughout the duration of the album and shows the band’s utter respect for the progressive side of the album. From here the band builds layer upon layers with various blistering chord progressions and brutal passages. The band continue the groove laden and low fi based guitar riffs blended with more traditional death metal and doom metal riffs.
Cormorant are certainly a band that will keep progressive doom laden black metal alive on some level.It also helps their cause to be independent without utter bondage to a prejudice of a record label. Disapora is a true testament that quality progressive black metal has a lengthy shelf life. After going back and listening to every album before this, Disapora is a album that is the next step in the natural evolution of the band and the genre. For the sheer open maturity of Cormorant’s Disapora I am giving this a 5/5and it is a strong contender for Album Of Year 2017
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