Cor Scorpii - Ruin - (9/10)
Published on June 22, 2018
Glorious Melodies from the Frozen North
After Valfar’s unfortunate and untimely (yet still ironic) death, the members of Windir split into two new bands, Vreid and Cor Scorpii. While Vreid’s output has remained steady throughout the years, Cor Scorpii have been dormant since releasing their debut in 2008. Now, 10 years later, Cor Scorpii are finally back with their sophomore effort, Ruin. Storm left the band in 2010 and joined Vreid but everyone else from the debut is on this new record. Despite the extended absence, the band’s sound remains pretty much the same, which bodes well for this new album.
Cor Scorpii’s sound much more closely resembles Windir’s than Vreid’s so fans looking for that sound will find plenty to like here. There are plenty of good riffs on here, most of which are tremolo picked. There is also plenty of melody packed into those riffs, making them more dynamic. The pacing of these songs varies regularly with plenty of fast sections interchanged with more intricate, mid-paced sections. Interspersed with all the tremolo picked riffs are some heavier, groovier riffs that give the album some variety. “Hjarteorm” undoubtedly contains the best riffs on the album with its blistering ¾ pace and heavy sensibilities. The fastest riffing on the album by far is in “Ærelaus,” which is a blistering track that also contains a couple riffs that are heavy as hell. If you like pure speed in your black metal, this track is definitely for you, even if this album may not be.
Ole Nordsve shows plenty of variety in his drumming style on this album. His primary mode is like most black metal drummers, play a bunch of blast beats at a rapid pace with double-kick thrown in for good measure. The nice thing is that while he does this often, those sections do not last that long before he goes back to striking solid beats at different paces. Take “Fotefar” for example. It starts with a rapid-fire blast beat section that lasts about 20 seconds before switching to mid-paced beats for about 30 seconds, throws in a short burst of fast beats with double kick and then goes back to the mid-paced beats. This back and forth continues for about a minute before a groovy beat comes in and just to keep you on your toes, they bring back the faster section to switch with the groovy beat. Ole also showcases very nice cymbal work and great rim drumming on tracks like “Helveteskap.”
If you enjoy a healthy dose of keyboards in your black metal, you will find a lot to like in Cor Scorpii. The keyboards are a really strong presence throughout the album but the opening and closing tracks, “Svart Blod (Hovmod står for fall)” and “Siste Dans,” respectively, are the biggest standouts, providing wonderful added atmosphere. The former contains a lovely little pipe organ section toward the end of the song and “Siste Dans” features an accordion that actually sounds good and works for the song. “Skuggevandrar” has some grand symphonics and some great piano style keyboards that further add to the album’s atmosphere. The vocals are a bit of a tricky business to pinpoint on this album because there are a couple different styles performed by a couple different musicians. Thomas’ harsh vocals are very well done although the lyrics are not very intelligible. They are the typical black metal high-pitched screams but they fit Cor Scorpii’s sound rather well. The clean female vocals add some nice variety to the vocal approach, especially coupled with the war chant clean vocals from Gaute. There are also some really visceral black metal growls on “Helveteskap,” which harmonize surprisingly well with the clean vocals, even if only for a moment.
Comeback albums after prolonged absences can be inconsistent or fail to measure up to a band’s earlier works. Luckily, that is not the case with Cor Scorpii as they have come back better and stronger than ever before. Ruin is a very strong sophomore album of melodic black metal glory, with plenty of riffs, great drumming, an interesting vocal approach and tons of compelling melodies and keyboard lines. It may not quite live up to the glory of Windir but Cor Scorpii have firmly established themselves in the Norwegian black metal scene with this album. Hopefully the world will not have to wait another 10 years for a third opus because the genre could use fresh blood.