Track Premiere: Cognos – “Hierarch”
Prognosis: we’re in for a ride!
Ah, Willowtip Records – purveyors of out-there shit for more than 20 years now. While most of the roster’s descriptors end in “death metal,” the prefixes vary wildly, and you can almost always be sure that the bands who find a home here put some interesting twist on their genre. As a perfect example of this, the label recently signed Afterbirth, and it looks like their thirst for the peculiar is not yet quenched: the upcoming self-titled debut from Cognos needs a whole heap of genre tags to be described even somewhat adequately.
From force of habit, I wanted to preface the band name with a place of origin there, but that and the band members’ identities are even more of a mystery than how to classify their sound. About that, I can at least say there’s a heavy dose of prog in it. Is it progressive death metal? Sorta, sometimes, but there’s also a ton of elements that seem to hark back to classic progressive rock, and this peculiar vocal style, and… I don’t know, man. How would they describe it?
“COGNOS links extreme styles with atmospherical ambients, trying to find the balancing point where Gojira meets Vangelis, Peter Gabriel embraces Coroner or even where Enya converses with Opeth.”
Well then. I don’t know what to add to that, so how about we jump right into “Hierarch” to witness the theory in practice.
Even just the first minute of the track does a good job examplifying how these guys wrangle chaos into an enticing story. From an intro that resembles tech thrash, it abruptly and dramatically blasts us through the atmosphere to slowly pan across the cosmos, where a surprising calmness and clean, chanting vocals await us. These take turns with the singer’s somewhat outlandish half-clean rasp as well as guttural growls.
And with that, you’ve heard most of the elements comprising the sound of Cognos, but how they arrange them throughout not only this song but the entire album makes for an often surprising, sometimes puzzling, but never alienating journey. Songs surge and writhe dramatically, rising to moments of intensity marbled with impressive technical proficiency and falling to stretches of beautiful serenity, which are always in peril of being ripped asunder by another onslaught of whirling progressive death metal. The closest comparison I have is last year’s space metal opus from Wills Dissolve, but that somehow still feels off the mark. The more I listen, the less sure I am I’ve ever heard anything quite like it.
Cognos will be out digitally and physically on October 22nd. Pre-orders as well as the track “Orb” are available now.