Corsair - Corsair (Shadow Kingdom Records)

What a start to 2013. Time to get the cardboard guitars out of mothballs, I think...
Release Date: 
20 Jan 2013 - 11:30pm


Originally released in April this year, I’m delighted to say that the good people at Shadow Kingdom Records are giving Corsair’s self titled, full length debut a well deserved re-activation – delighted because anything that gives this superb album a bigger chance of wider exposure has to be a very good thing indeed.

Rooted in classic rock, this Charlotteville, Virginian quartet know a thing or two about beguiling axework. Every track is a smorgasbord of Lizzyesque harmony work, whatever the style of track is overall. And the band do like to cast their net wide, taking in the obvious Lizzy influences to a mix that also includes, gloriously, the likes of (old) Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Wishbone Ash… I could go on but I suspect you’ve already got the point. 

When the band rocks out, as it does at the start of the gallopingly combative Gryphon Wing, sparks fly. As guitarists  Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin go to town, alternating crushing riffage and delightfully intricate harmony work in the blink of an eye, the rhythm section of Jordan Brunk and Aaron Lipscombe simply sit back on the beat and provide a suitably adamantine framework for them to work with – and the whole thing works brilliantly.  By the middle of the song, the band’s mood has changed completely a the two guitatists weave in and out of one anothers playing majestically, and it’s hard to adequately describe just how fantastic it is to listen to. You’ll just have to take my word for it. 

But it’s not all retrogressive posturing. Path of the Chosen Arrow has a much more modern feel as a whole, whilst still harnessing the awesome guitar power that this band seems to be able to produce at the drop of a hat. The feel of the vocals here – everyone sings apart from Lipscombe and my info doesn’t say who warbles what – is far more ‘indie’, which leaves the song sounding like a much harder rocking Weezer, which isn’t as bad as you’d think, honestly… but even if you don’t like the sound of that normal service is resumed at the end of the song with yet another bout of sustained axe duelling.

After the second of two instrumentals things get back into full metal swing with the preposterously good Of Kings and Cowards, a song so true to it’s style you’d think it had been written in a dingy London rehearsal room sometime in 1979, before the reflective The Desert brings things to a close with dreamscape jamming by way of ethereal goodbye… that is until the glorious heavying up process that the song goes through towards the end.

Albums that cover this much stylistic ground often have trouble maintaining the interest of the casual listener, as there’s just not enough generic narrative to hold things together, but that’s not the case with Corsair. The quality of the songwriting holds everything together, and this is a compelling, not to mention essential, addition to the collection of any hard rock collection.