Originally written by Chris Redar
I know it’s my job as a critic to be able to use an objective set of criteria to subjectively judge an album based on the audience said album will appeal to and all, but this Cormorant…
It’s nearly impossible to say if this is any good. Earth Diver is single-minded in its approach to melancholy blackmospherics ™, and yet spends a good deal of time taking forks in the road before returning home.
Let’s just dive right in: Acoustic opener “Eris” leads directly into “Daughter of Void,” and it sounds like the tail-end of “Of Blindness and Subsequent Seers” in reverse. Gorgeous, mind you. Just in reverse. Near the minute marker is where Cormorant lays down the majority of its hand for the table: Blackwater Park-era Opeth meets three-quarters of the current USBM scene.
The upside/downside thing usually goes here to eat up some of the word count, but in the interest of saving YOU, the valued reader, a few moments of time, this will be presented in bullet point format before discussing these talking points.
The TL;DR version of this review:
–Band can play well
–Good fretwork; some awesome solos
–Some pretty moving material presented
–Songs in the seven-infinity minute time range
–Taco Bell-style rearranging of same parts into different songs
–Production flatter than a cheating hillbilly’s tires
Mentioned above was moving material. “Sold As a Crow” stakes its claim as both the rockin’est and the most stirring cut on Earth Diver, concerning itself less with cramming sung vocals into and around the edges and simply charging for the gate. Solid riffs that don’t melt into distortion-free passages drive the singular tempo into overdrive in the last minute or so. It’s quite pleasant.
“Mark the Trail” opens with an eerie wail before devolving into some serious 80’s style BM, and that is as complimentary as can be taken. It’s clear that Cormorant COULD be nailing a certain something special down…were they to apply more pressure with the hammer.
However, those loose swings mean plenty of bent nails and re-tries. “Waking Sleep,” while lyrically vibrant, zigs and zags like most of our staff trying to find the bathroom after that last glass of scotch in our multi-million dollar studies. It might have been three pretty good songs when deconstructed; instead, we get one hodge-podge of parts that don’t really fit together. And a nine-minute bell time is too many minutes for such fodder. And then there’s the non-distorted guitar/sung v shouted vocals/d-blast into slow part formula that Earth Diver slides around nearly indiscriminately. Bands have styles, and that’s fine, but this particular one doesn’t work in these doses.
This really feels like it could have been great. Like really, really great. Emotionally draining, AOTY-contention-level stuff, even. If Cormorant can tighten up the focus and get to a place where the next album sounds like a whole as opposed to a bunch of sums, then that record will surely be a masterstroke.
Earth Diver, unfortunately, isn’t that album. It’s an unfinished sentence, but it’s just good enough to make you wonder what they will eventually plug in as the verb.