Corsair are one of those almost defiantly not modern metal bands who wander out of the US in particular now and then; a rock band who hark back to the days when Thin Lizzy were the heaviest thing on the planet and ‘Jessica’ could be single material. In fact they open up this self titled debut with a nice clean bit of a prog tinged instrumental in Agathyrst. It is a nice showcase, a spirited introduction full of neat, wrist flicking guitar lines and talent. It doesn’t exactly set me on fire but it is nice nonetheless. Chaemera, up next, is shockingly quiet at first for any song with a genuine riff. It is also the first time you hear the lead vocals: Without the trace of an Irish accent the weird summoning of Phil Lynott’s gentle, conversational singing is stunning as is the lush, soft backing. This is classic rock before that scruffy urchin NWOBHM came in and merrily puked on the carpet. Sweet, with a superb classic metal lead break it makes me feel young again. And old because I was there first time around. And thoughtful. And all the things music should do to me.
It’s clear that if the above makes you go WTF?, LOL or any other internet approved shorthand for an actual opinion then move on. It is an alien language to you. But if you enjoyed the delights of Firebird, or Valkyrie or even prog heavy Slough Feg settle in.
Falconer, the third song starts with a curious, bouncy phrase but suddenly, smoothly, sweetly slips into one of the finest Lizzy gone Allman Brothers songs I have ever heard. Beautiful can be overused, but this is simply beautiful. It dances and flows and catches a lump in my throat. Twin guitars harmonizing, lazy, sunny phrases gliding through some glorious open sky… Lord… It is sweet. A soft shift in rhythm and Gryphon Wing sits in the same valley as Emerald, a battle song born on a galloping little bass riff. Through slower thoughtful passages, wistful Wishbone Ash like in its touch or progressive in the time shifts it is like watching an old Panther motorcycle majestically and smoothly slide alongside the brash bright GSXRs at a biker gathering. And they keep doing this; effortlessly sinuous, flowing classic rock with metal lead breaks woven into prog flourishes. Sometimes their tendency to end on a long instrumental jars the conservative rocker in me, sometimes they do enter the noodle zone a little too far for me such as on instrumental Mach but even there when they pull out the kind of breaks that riddle this track I can forgive them even that, and so easily.
Of Kings And Cowards has a harsher vocal tone but the song remains lord and their unerring grip on melody and ridiculously catchy musical themes doesn’t let them down.
Eccentric to the end they close on an ethereal, drifting song Desert. Drenched in echo and female vocals to begin with it then hits you with a great crunch of a riff before briefly, intermittently falling back into the drift with a pulsing, railroad rhythm of a bassline.
So: a bit of Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, maybe even pinches of Valkyrie, Uriah Heep and the Allman Brothers, mix with a light progressive rock touch and the contents of a fisherman’s tackle box for hooks, sweetly engaging vocals and hold it in a remarkably mature and confident grip and have it hit you out of sodding nowhere.
Bet the gits look disgustingly young and healthy too.