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Corsair - Corsair (Shadow Kingdom Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[8.5/10] Funny how en vogue the term "prog" has become. What was once was a tag designed to accentuate obvious non-metal bands such as Yes, The Flower Kings, and Marillion, prog's influence on metal has grown exponentially the last several years. Discussion usually begins with Between the Buried and Me, who practically carried the rudiments into the new decade, this, after a successful run on the decidedly non-prog Victory Records. Discussion on BTBAM's various spawn and djent's unfortunate existence comes into play as well, but none of them are as tried-and-true "prog" as Virginia's Corsair.

The band's self-titled debut was originally self-released last spring, only to have it picked up Shadow Kingdom Records for an early 2013 drop. By recycling and repositioning the album to the metal public, Corsair stands to gain some serious ground, far more than they would have gained on their own (although self-released albums that make that cut are pretty cool). And given that all parties probably know their intended audience, Corsair seems ripe for Slough Feg/Hammers of Misfortune crowd.

If we're fishing for sound connotations, the first handle would be somewhere between Thin Lizzy and 70's prog, as guitar harmonies abound, as well as a relaxed, friendly vocal approach that would make 'ole Phil Lynott proud. The band nestles these ideas amongst occasionally tricky transitions, as heard on "Path of the Chosen Arrow," while the smooth-rocking gets going on "Gryphon Wing," the album's highlight. As the album wears on, vocals become partially scarce (one of the few things the band has to iron out), although guitarist Marie Landragin turns in an ethereal, stellar performance on "Desert."

Fledgling bands like Corsair generally don't make albums as convincing as this. Once past the noticeable influence-on-sleeve-wearing and dearth of vocals, Corsair blossoms into an album that should have no problem bro-ing down with the prog geeks, and the suddenly hip, but not really hip, hipster metal crowd. Corsair is going to enjoy being popular.

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