Cormorant, narrative and you.

Writing is hard.

And, the above seems like something of an indulgence. I can't however, express my feelings another way - it was hard to put together the drive to establish another article. I have changed subject, means and delivery multiple times, so I hope his works.

Cormorant are an awesome band, to start with - and Dwellings is one of those albums I would have placed in my contender for 2011's Release of the year. Let's get those minor details out of the way; so we know where I stand. It's a seamless work of Progressive Heavy Metal and hits like a truck ... if the truck was a perfect hybrid mixture of the 1970 and 1990's made by an impressively talented collective of auto-autists. However, my review of the actual album will have to wait, this post is a little more obsessive over a detail.

I had the fortune of reading a rather intriguing interview of Cormorant that I'll link later, which was both intriguing both in said and unsaid terms. There was valuable insight into the band's tastes through the opinions of member Arthur Von Nagel, the conclusions left me with much to consider as to the band's latest work and music in general .In between references to his history, upbringing and inspiration; his choice of musical passions and his band members, he expressed a succinct and painful concern for his job future - without a college degree and hoping the liquidation papers never rolled in.

Those types of concerns don't get acknowledged enough by all kinds of people, even those whom have a home, a family, a set of economic responsibilities. They change us. They shape us. Those responsibilities become as binding as the need for companionship or escape from routine for our sanity. For too many, accepting those is the 'end' of their credibility and where selling out becomes a concern. Thankfully, this is never uniformly true - embracing our collective need for some kind of finance can also strengthen an artist. Commercial does exist, it's too often sidelined, disrespected or ignored and honestly, I think Cormorant would not be the same band without it.

With all of that; we come to Unearthly Dreamings. This song.

The business of this post won't actually be to deconstruct the song or talk about why I consider it brilliant per se - so let's get the important details set first. Listen to it, The Entire Thing. Right, now that we have done that. The Interview.

Now, there will be spoilers below, since I'd rather discuss the content of the song; do heed this.

Unearthy Dreaming's as a song concerns the ill-fated voyage of the Soviet Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, whom died as a result of mismanagement and gross negligence associated with the Soviet space program when his Soyuz 1 vessel crashed after re-entry on April 24, 1967. He died having taken every conceivable action to right the difficult circumstances he found himself in - The Solar Panels failed, leaving Komarov underpowered and without access to navigation systems as well as faulty HF equipment. Despite these factors, the Cosmonaut was able to right the capsule and attempt re-entry, despite the ion engine system designed to assist with this also failing. On his nineteenth orbit, he successfully re-entered the Earth's atmosphere - no small feat for a Man locked in a deathtrap consistently transmitting incomplete or incorrect safety information.

It was at this late stage, he died.

The parachutes failed and the Soyuz 1 crashed into the ground, creating a mess from which few remains could be collected.

Rather anticlimactic, really.

With the right execution, this is potentially powerful stuff - the perfect nexus for a stunning Metal song which delivers a series of aimed, weighted and determined body-blows to the listener. The Cosmonaut's life is retold in reverse order, a sonorous (although compelling) of lyrical presentation. The unconfirmed (but touching) references to Yuri Gagarin aka “You cannot die in my stead,” whom Komarov felt determined to protect; the recordings from his last moments used as intro/outro, “Killers all!” he cried,, the story is clearly established, and I think effectively to boot. His death and the effects, highlighted - Komarov's last journey.

All of this is a powerful reservoir from which to draw, make no mistake. The story here is brilliant in my mind - the song is equally brilliant. However, "Brilliance" and "Legendary" have some gaps between each other; and Cormorant show a level of maturity reflected by their experience in smallest of touches for this song. It's those small details that create something quite outstanding. It's also worth acknowledging that Cormorant have a thing for Anti-Heroes or Villainous characters in their lyricism and their stories; which left my curiosity doubly piqued. Why Komarov? There was an edge to this song I felt existed but could not entirely appreciate, despite the delivery, the narrative, the passion - and the pitiless lyrical delivery. As with much in life, the key was in a small detail - the syntax, so often ignored when listening to a song.

"-- screaming --"

Why the emphasis? Cried, screaming; these words certainly invoke something. Often we bandy around terminology such as a "scream" to the point they lose real meaning- but a scream is supposed to be extraordinary, yes? A yell or a cry would be something moderate; but a scream - a scream has power. Frustration is highlighted, but there's something about this line, when combined with probably the highlight of a brilliant piece in 9.46

"to pluck the planets from a fertile sky."

Sky is delivered in this kind of discordant roar, half rage, half despair. At first I thought it was deft songwriting device. It's not hard to imagine Komarov raging in despair in his last moments either - and they use this to hitch the finale of the song (and the album) into a glorious assault of Dynamic and Triumphant Guitar solos that would make any prog fan most satisfied. There's something rich and indulgent about it, almost confident in the way youth, the energy of a band confident enough to let loose knowing they've hit it right.

But I had to read more, because it's a motif encapsulated by the last line's delivery in the song - 9.46 was already my favourite musical moment of the year. So I read more.

And there's the fact that to some reports, screaming

Reverse Narrative, starting in Medias Res.

Starting with his death.

Ending with his childhood, and his dreams and ambitions.

9.46 Isn't just a clever means to bring about a song's conclusion - it's spine of the song. Before it, narrative and exposition, a story being told. After, energy, guitars, a harrowing recording - and the end. The entire song's true emotional impact is built around a reference so obvious and yet so subtle. It's easy to look at it and go "recalling Komarov's last moments before he dies", as the narrator shifts from third to first person. It's another concept altogether to tie that with the symbolism of the era of innocence in manned spaceflight ending, to contrast the ambitions of a young man with the machine that would eventually cost him his life - as much the Soviet System as the capsule itself. All of the technical brilliance is just building on that.

It's a true sign of a band's maturity - and a sign of Cormorant's maturity as artists and as people, that they can turn cutting loose into something both confident and significant, arrogant and punchy - something with meaning and swagger. That they can build a showy, confident display of musical virtuosity in a way that makes the listener feel this is not just entirely appropriate, but warranty. But all of that is just window dressing - it's one person's attempt at a semi- analysis of a song they really liked.

I like it when ambitious songs try and tell a story. Cormorant set out to do this. The song builds to this.

And just for that one moment, Nagel is Komarov, and he is screaming.
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