Review Summary: A classical influenced extreme metal group burning the last few embers that Windir had created.
Cor Scorpii is a classically influenced extreme metal band hailing from Norway. The band was formed in 2004 by Windir’s keyboardist, Gaute Refsnes after the untimely demise of the band’s potent leader. Two other members from Windir jumped aboard in 2005 but promptly left ship before the band could put out their debut. Although things had started pretty rough for the group, Gaute quickly rebounded by picking up some talented musicians to further pursue their growing interests within the band. Cor Scorpii had latched onto the notable Descent Productions to release their debut album Monument. I’m quite happy with the result because this label boasts several other premier metal acts like Ikuinen Kaamos and Be’Lakor. After hearing their excellent demo Attergangar, I was hungry to hear a full length and Monument didn’t let me down at any point.
Cor Scorppi can be described as a hybrid melodic black/ death metal outfit in the vein of Naglfar but instead of relying on bruising force to maintain their sound, they incorporate a healthy dose of progressive and classical influences to keep things varied and interesting. First and foremost, fans familiar to Windir’s back catalog will be able to spot the notable influence it had on the music. However, this is much faster and intense than anything Windir has ever done. Featuring a pummeling rhythm section, excellent vocals, and a keen eye for atmosphere and melody, Cor Scorpii are poised to break out in the underground metal scene with this elegant release.
“Monument” is an unrelenting tour de force, with every track blasting away with pure, unbridled aggression. The lone exception to this would be the given instrumental “Helvetesfossen”. Even though the song is purely instrumental it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. Opening up with an epic, classical inspired piece, the song picks up right away with soaring lead guitar and intricate bass lines following it’s every move. The rhythm guitar and drums play at a steady pace for a great semi head banging track. The classical element being integrated in the black/death styling’s of Cor Scorpii helps give the music an extraordinary feeling. Especially on the opening track “Ei Fane Svart” with it’s slow introduction of intricate piano notes before exploding into an all out riff fest. The choir vocals at the closing minuet only increases the power of the song with incredible emotion. It’s amazing that only 6 minutes in I’m already blown away.
The most impressive aspect from the album is the maturity and dexterity shown by Stian Bakketeig and Rune Sjothun. As a duo, these guys play perfectly together. Boasting plenty of talent and respect for each others movements, they attack their instruments with a flurry of tremolo picking and spectacular harmonies. Thomas S. Øvstedal was a great pick up for the band, seamlessly transcending both genres with a variety of higher pitched shrieking and deep, guttural growls. His voice boasts plenty of aggression and power perfect for the nature of the music. There is clean singing on here although it’s not from Thomas. They were performed by Funeral’s Mats Lerberg. They possess an epic quality you would find in most Viking metal bands, such as Windir or Tyr. They sound great nonetheless and they’re always a pleasure to hear. Gaute Refsnes takes a minimalist approach to the keyboards with a flair for the dramatics yet they don’t sound tacky or gimmicky. They’re not overbearing or cheesy in the power metal sense but they’re more in line with Vladimir Cochet’s work in Mirrorthrone. Dark, romantic themes play out through the synth ridden atmosphere as the punishing guitars bring a more organic feel to the music. Kjettar features an instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mirrorthrone record. Gaute dabbles with the piano on several occasions lending a great feel to the aggressive nature of the beast. The synth work adds a lot of texture to the blackened death metal base into an almost perfect union.
Completing the package of the group is the bass and drums. Ole Nordsve’s performance on Monument is primarily speed driven. There’s plenty of quick double bass and blast beat patterns that keep up with the overall speed of the album. Inge Jonny Lomheim is present much of the time but most importantly interesting. There are plenty of notable bass lines that follow the guitars lead. Top notch vocals, strong guitar work, excellent drumming and bass work, this is the metal album to beat although we’re still waiting for Ikuinen Kaamos’s new record to blow us away. As a whole group, they function quite well in managing to create intense but very accessible songs with reasonable lengths. Not sure what’s in the air today but plenty of these debut albums I come upon boast above average production. Cor Scorpii fails to disappoint with a nice, glossy finish. All in all, one of the finest metal records I’ve heard all year and I urge fans of Mirrorthrone, Naglfar, Windir, and Ikuinen Kaamos to give this a peak. 4.2/5.