9. Cormorant - Dwellings
There is so much to love about this sophomore full-length album from this truly talented group of Bay Area progressive blackened trad-metallers. For one thing, the album art is just stunning. The copy I pre-ordered comes with a full-page poster of the painting which is the centerpiece of the album art, and it’s just fantastic. Sonically, the album is nearly perfect in terms of production – almost too close to perfect. Musically, the amount of talent on display here is incredible – all musicians are firing on all cylinders throughout, and the result is a collection of extremely tight compositions. The samples, which are mixed into the songs artfully, serve to add to the overall proceedings without becoming overstated. Even the lyrics, which complement (and are complemented by) the samples are topical without being pretentious. Perhaps the only flaw this otherwise perfect album has is that the vocal style seems a bit unimpressive at times compared to the high quality of the rest of the palette of sound, and also the style of the music itself – which tends to shift between trad rock, some thrashy bits and some light death metal here and there – just doesn’t seem to be consistently in my wheelhouse for preferred listening. This is a comment which has more to do with my musical preferences than with the quality of the record, and so I count it as a minor point. Otherwise, as has been mentioned, this album is of extremely high quality all around, and quite deserving of the lavish praise it has received in the months since its release.