Cortez "Initial"CDPosted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005 @ 4:31pm » permalink
The French label Radar Swarm is without a doubt one of the best labels out there right now – sort of like the European equivalent of Hydra Head at their best in my eyes – releasing consistently excellent records with great looking artwork, etc. Their latest tasty platter is the debut full-length from Cortez, which should certainly appeal to fans of Radar Swarm's quality roster, not to mention those longing for more jams akin to some of Hydra Head's finer moments in acts like fellow Swiss bashers Knut.
This bassless Swiss trio's self-titled demo had potential, but didn't quite win me over. Well, thankfully they've gone and obliterated their prior work with "Initial" (complete with re-recordings of all three demo songs in place). This is wholly ferocious material with just the right amount of cacophonous guitar textures and perfectly subdued melody to provide an eerie sort of undercurrent and keep the material memorable amidst all the scathing screams and dissonant rhythmic pulses. They don't really need a bassist, but I wouldn't be complaining if they had one, as the recording takes some adjusting to on this thing. The drums sound excellent and do a great job of thickening things up, but the guitars could definitely stand for a little more of a dominant crunch to balance out the caustic sort sheen of they've got going on. But fuck it, with songs ranging from 17-second blasts of pure chaos to 10-minute epics that ebb and flow all around, whether they're cramming a lot into a little (see the absolutely superb "Néant" below) or taking their time exploring different avenues, these cats have plenty to work with.
My intense hatred for downloading music is only strengthened by this CD's spectacular looking six-panel digipack with excellent photography and very little text, not to mention a massive 16-page booklet – all of which features a satin finish and little hints of metallic silver ink (all of the lyrics are in French so you're on your own there). It doesn't seem to have hit US distributors just yet, but you can grab it straight from the label or get in touch with them for more information. I imagine it'll be available from Stickfigure or Crucial Blast (among a few others) by early-2006, though. But for now, snag it from Radar Swarm…
There are just so many killer bands and labels outside the US that are still getting pretty heavily overlooked here, and that's bullshit, so cut it out!