Thursday 30 March 2023

Coridian - Hava (2023)

Country: New Zealand
Style: Progressive Metal
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 10 Mar 2023
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I haven't heard Coridian before, even though this is the last in a set of four themed releases about the elements: two EPs, Oceanic and Caldera, to cover earth and water, then two full length albums, Eldu and Hava, to cover fire and air, specifically wind. However, they've sold me on their sound here even though I wasn't convinced on a first listen. It's very clean and modern and doesn't easily fit in only one bucket. I'm not even sure whether it's rock or metal, because it straddles the boundary so well. I'm calling it prog metal for the sake of a label, but there's more here from alt rock and post-rock than any of the usual suspects from prog metal. Dream Theater this isn't.

There's also a very American flavour here, but not so far that it turns me off, probably because it's so good at layering textures and because it's never exclusive. State of Mind, for instance, feels like post-everything. It's American post-grunge but also British post-punk and some post-rock textures fleshing it out. It's built on a System of a Down kind of riff but some commercial era Paradise Lost in breakdowns and with everything smoothed and polished to the exact shade of brushed steel on the cover art. The vocals are in between, full of melodies I'd expect from the Foo Fighters but with a grungier edge and even a drop into softer Coldplay territory at points.

That's an interesting mix and the rest of the album continues to play in that sort of area, but with odd departures here and there. It was initially awkward for me because I have a feeling the major influences are often going to be ones I don't know. Rakshasa adds a screamed backing vocal right out of emo, for a start, and that's not a genre I know, mostly because I'm not a fan of that style of vocals, but it works here because it's just another texture rather than a deliverer of fake emotion.

The contrast between the clean vocals of Dity Maharaj, which remain in front, and that scream by Michael Murphy of Written by Wolves, makes for a neat texture. The same goes in a very different way for the other guest vocal, by Jessie Booth of Ekko Park on Redefine, a tasty duet between two different but compatible vocal tones. I ought to check their bands out too, given that both of them are prominent and successful and I haven't heard anything by them before. It seems notable that Booth isn't the vocalist in Ekko Park though she guests here in that role. She's their guitarist.

I mention fake emotion not as a dig towards emo music, but because there's a further paradox for me here. Everything feels carefully constructed, as tends to be the case with prog, but it's battling hard to feel organic, the way that the best alt rock does. However smooth this felt, there's always a hint of grunge in the sound and I think that's what keeps it music to make us feel something, not just admire. Emo is all about making us feel something and it never works for me, because it feels manipulative. This doesn't. I feel that Coridian feel their own music. It's honest and I can easily see them on stage totally lost in the flow of these songs, even on their hundredth time through them.

The first half is solid, but I like the second half even more. It kicks off with Wicked Game, a song we all know that comes out of the blue. Maharaj's voice gets smoother here and Nick Raven's bass is a lot more obvious. It's not Diana Ankudinova but it's a tasty cover. I adore the opening to Coexist, a hint at Tool, I think, but I also adore the fact that the song proper maintains its high standards to become easily my favourite here. It's one of those songs that would sound great in a tiny club in a rundown corner of Auckland but just as great echoing over sixty thousand people at Eden Park.

I should mention The Unkindness too, because, as an atmospheric instrumental, it isn't the sort of song that I'd expect to mention but it's absolutely worthy of it. It isn't the only such piece here, as Algorithm is a capable intro and Exist is an interlude late on the first side, but this one is the best, because it serves both as a perfect buffer zone serving to help us down from Coexist's grandeur to become ready for the rest of the album and as a a worthy instrumental on its own merits. The last three songs are strong too, including the album's epic closer, Naya Din.

I've been listening to this album for far too long, because I have others to move on to, but it caught my attention. It sounded decent but not my sort of thing. The more I listened to it, the more it got its hooks into me and, after a month of mostly 7/10s, I have to bounce this one up to an 8/10.

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