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After a lifetime of late nights, ringing ears and stinky clothing, I have officially become that asshole who would rather stay at home and listen to music in-between episodes of The Daily Show than venture out into society and mingle with my metal brethren. And after articles detailing experiences with said brethren, I make no apologies for such behavior. That being said, I do occasionally find myself committing to a show without hesitation, which means it usually involves some non-threatening component worth documenting.
This then raises the question, what made the Cormorant and Young Hunter show at the Wandering Goat coffee house deserving of a presence such as my own? Despite the fact that the same bands played eight blocks from my house the following evening, the venue, nestled 90 minutes away in Eugene, Oregon, merited the trip. For the sake of transparency, I worked at the Wandering Goat for just under three years and can attest that it is not only Eugene’s finest coffee shop but perhaps the best in the Northwest. The prospect of enjoying several mouthwatering Americanos in conjunction with progressive metal was a narcotic marriage no mortal should be asked to refute.
Furthermore, I lived in Eugene for just over 16 years, and in that time saw some of the most amazing bands play to the smallest audiences. Despite my desire for independent bands to garner financial success and artistic notoriety, I knew that the turnout would be small ensuring a more intimate experience. As Cormorant has become a reoccurring entity on IO, I felt it was my obligation to interrupt my otherwise predictable existence and report on happenings outside of my bedroom. I summoned IO Assistant Editor and Eugene inhabitant Vanessa Salvia for her assistance with both photography and companionship to achieve the article that you’re no doubt currently enjoying. [Vanessa’s note: The black goat which you will see in the following photos, was created by Wandering Goat employee Joel Terry using hemp fiber “fur” crocheted onto a foam goat head. Terry attached synthetic horns and glass eyes, for a completely vegan goat.]
For the sake of brevity, both bands were awesome. Young Hunter employed a three-guitar, two-drummer and multi-vocal attack to deliver a set of heaviness reminiscent of a post-rock inspired Black Mountain with the occasional blast beat. Their sound was fantastic, particularly the bass tone, and their riffs memorable as they hit their ambitious harmonies and left a lasting impression on the audience.
Whereas Young Hunter claims an influence of classic and stoner rock, Cormorant are more of a unique interpretation of classic metal— the improbable love-child of a union between King Crimson, Dio, and Bathory. Lead singer Arthur von Nagel and guitarist Matt Solis perfectly executed the alternating vocal interplay, jumping between black metal growls and clean vocals, while the band blasted out a combination of fantasy, folk and prog-influenced black metal until our barista announced last call. Not to be overlooked, von Nagel had one of the coolest basses I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the show, outside of my second cappuccino, was that both bands played at absolutely reasonable volumes, which allowed their sense of dynamics to shine, amplified their stellar musicianship and showcased the compositions. As persnickety as this may sound, I cannot tolerate how absurdly loud so many metal bands like to play. Why even spend time practicing when your live sound is tantamount to an amplified lawnmower rumbling underneath the world’s largest vacuum cleaner?
Additionally crucial to this show’s success was that both bands were filled with great people. From the first note of the evening, you knew you were listening to passionate professionals who deserve to be appreciated and supported in their labor of loud. After the show, von Nagel gave me a copy of Dwellings (with its beautiful artwork), before I noted the hour and made the dreaded late night drive with my espresso quota veering into white-drug territory. I left vowing to enact this sort of impulsive behavior more often.
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