Wednesday 1 June 2022

Corona Nimbus - Obsidian Dome (2022)

Country: Brazil
Style: Alternative
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 10 May 2022
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Corona Nimbus fall into three categories of music that I'm thoroughly enjoying nowadays here at Apocalypse Later. For one, they're a band that I discovered through this project, when I reviewed their self-titled debut album in 2020. For another, they're from South America, specifically Brazil, and I was already appreciating the diversity and quality that I was hearing from that continent in 2020. That goes double now that I've reviewed a dozen more albums from Brazilian bands. Third, I have trouble lumping them into a single genre, because they shift often in fascinating ways.

Their Bandcamp page suggests that they're a stoner/sludge metal band, but that's just one aspect of their sound and arguably not the obvious starting point. Sure, it wasn't hard to find stoner rock on their debut, but it's clean stoner rock, with a vocalist who feels like a vocalist (he isn't, because Júlio Baros also plays guitar, but he feels like he might be a vocalist first, which isn't typical for the genre) and guitars that aren't a fuzzed up assault.

I heard prog rock on that album as well, on top of NDH, alternative rock, space rock, post-rock and even hints of nu metal. That holds here too, because this is an entirely logical follow-up, doing the same things maybe a little better. Once again, it's not hard to find stoner rock, once again in clean form sans fuzz. The band still heavy up from rock to metal at points, but there's not a lot here that I associate with sludge, except on Seeds of the Universe, with guest vocals from Fbcy.

Like the debut, this kicks off with an intriguing opener, introducing Iron Maiden guitar melodies into alt rock, follows up with a prog interlude and then launches into a heavier third song. Also like the debut, it's not quite that simple. Pollar, that intriguing opener, drops into a proggy and almost ambient midsection before getting more urgent in its second half. It hints at Voivod done alt rock, an approach that's all the more obvious later on Animals, which is exactly that. The heavier third song, A Place for This Golden Sunrise, is proggy technical stoner rock, with a closing section that is reminiscent of Mountain's Nantucket Sleighride as much as anything from the nineties.

Doomsday was my first standout track, its alternative stoner rock made exotic by hand percussion by someone called Fagão behind the drums and edgy in the chorus. Then it drops on a dime into a fascinating midsection, somehow without jarring us, even though it leaves ussuddenly in an exotic and lush land of jazzy promise. It kicks back in gear just as cleverly and heavier than it was to begin with too. Those shifts, both from heavy to light and back again, grab me every time I listen through this album. Corona Nimbus have always been great at contrasts but this one's an absolute peach.

The absolute peach of a track this time out, though, is Abyssal Expedition, a glorious instrumental that's also longer than anything else here. It's much looser and sparser when it starts out, proggy and with more unusual percussion from Fagão, but after a brief but excellent bass run, it's heavied up to churn nicely. The title suggests a journey into the depths of the ocean, which means pressure in crazy amounts and the increasing heaviness here mimics that wonderfully.

If that's the journey we're on, the peaceful sections we find ourselves in are hardly to be expected but they're wonderful anyway. Nobody expects to find an accordion in the depths but it shows up in this song, courtesy of Inácio Botelho, along with delicate guitar and hand blocks. Maybe the band's showing us what wild wonders suddenly appear down there in realms that few have ever ventured into. It's certainly how I took it. We're in another world entirely, one occupied by bizarre creatures indeed and the music is accordingly vibrant and unexpected. It's a magnificent piece.

The other piece I'd call out for special mention, even though it's a short interlude before the final track and it only lasts a minute, is Gaia. That's partly because it reminds of Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd and partly because it does an insane amount in just a minute. The way I read it is as how the world has changed because of us in only a few millennia. Shifting from that into Exausted (sic) and Exposed makes a lot of sense and adds power to it and, by extension, the rest of the album.

And so to rating it. I liked Obsidian Dome a lot and more than the debut which I also liked. Abyssal Expedition is easily a 9/10 for me and Doomsday isn't far behind it. I found over repeat listens that those two songs stand out more and more from the rest, though, so even though nothing lets the side down, I think I need to stay with a 7/10, just one that's closer to an 8/10 than the debut. Now I really want to hear a third album, which I guess will show up in another couple of years. There's a confidence in this band to walk their own path and I thoroughly appreciate that.

And how gorgeous is that cover art, once again by the amazing Wildner Lima!

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