posted on 7/2012 By:
After two great EPs that fully displayed their wide skill set, Virginia rockers Corsair have finally found the time to record a proper full-length, and it delivers on its forebearers in ways both predictable and not. The band’s influences are still quite obvious, but on Corsair they are filtered differently. Where the debut Alpha Centauri and to a lesser extent Ghosts of Proxima Centauri would really ape one or two styles / bands per song, Corsair sees the band blending them more holistically and methodically across the album’s extent. The fact that a band that still seems somewhat embryonic can pull off something this ferociously righteous and fun is a credit to both their cohesiveness as a unit and their continually maturing talents as songwriters.
Analysis of a band’s maturity is all well and good, but let’s get to the meat: Corsair has more hot licks than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. With each riff, hook, and lead that Marie Landragin and Paul Sebring pack into these 38 minutes, it is obvious that Corsair worships at the throne of God Electric. It should then be no surprise that the band’s primary influences are also driven by six strings and a stack. Thin Lizzy, the hardest driving Led Zeppelin, and bits of classic British metal are joined by a progressive rock mindset and flashes of spacey Hawkwind to form a flurry of always-active-but-never-indulgent hard rock / metal. The album is laid-back but also emotionally driven; it’s technical but never boisterous, and complex without having a learning curve. Most of all it harkens back to a time when rockin’ was free of pretension and just plain cool. You’d have to be pretty black and cold inside if you can listen to this without your hands either in the air as fists or placed in front of you on an imaginary guitar.
Partake and enjoy, that’s the game here. Forget about how much Corsair wears their influences proudly on their sleeves and instead let their honest and enthusiastic music reveal its subtleties. Opening instrumental “Agathyrsi” brings a progressive rock flair to the Hawk Maiden approach, but lines the proceedings with a somewhat sorrowful nature that flows into the following, very Lizzyesque tracks “Falconer” and “Gryphon Wing” (particularly Lizzyesque in their vocals). As the album continues it takes on and tosses off various other parts of the 70s without so much as a glance back. “Gryphon Wing” is a dynamic and catchy little number that brings a touch of UFO and NWOBHM while adding even more of the playful lead harmonies introduced in previous tracks. Touches of space rock are hinted at in various places, but it isn’t until closer “Desert” that this aspect is fully indulged, in which a near post-rock first half and some ghostly vocals by Landragin give way to a heightened intensity and proggish finale. (If I have one small complaint here, it is that there isn’t a bit more in this ethereal vein, because the band really excels at it.)
However, if Corsair is skilled at blending their various styles into something their own, it is their ever advancing compositional skills that truly raise the quality these songs. From the aforementioned catchy hooks (“Of Kings and Cowards”) and seamless transitions (the complex “Path of the Chosen Arrow”) to the band’s dynamic sensibility and fearless smattering of smooth leads anywhere and everywhere, Corsair just understands how to write great tunes, both conventional and not. As a result, their approach will appeal greatly to fans of everyone from the aforementioned Hawkwind and Thin Lizzy to contemporary acts such as Slough Feg and Bible of the Devil. Since their debut EP, all they’ve done is write great, fun hard rock and metal jams, and that’s exactly what they’re still doing here.
Finally, as with the EPs, this full-length sees the full benefit of the band’s DIY methods, complete with very affordable prices and hand-printed album casings. Just one more layer in the coolness cake that is Corsair.
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