REVIEW: CORNA “Wishmaster”

Norwegian Metal/Rock hybrid return with sophomore effort.

You know those days when you’re looking for inspiration, wondering if you’re on the right track? Then out of the blue something or someone comes around and adds some clarification.

I won’t get into a long drawn out story, but I’m been contemplating the state of Rock and Metal lately in detail and wondering what direction we’re going.  This band from Horten/Drøbak made me realize we’re dealing with 40+ years of electrified Rock and there really are no rules to what you can and cannot do.  Having said that, Rock is Rock, Metal is Metal.

Corna really do blend together generations of music. At first listen I was thinking they were more Power Metal, they have the precision and superb production of the bands coming from Europe.  At closer inspection I realized they had more modern elements and fit under several categories.

Vocalist Cato Johansen could sing for just about any type of rock band, he has great range but doesn’t try to shatter glass on every song.  His voice has soul and power, I can’t say enough about his delivery, it works on every song from the more Metal sounding title track “The Witchmaster” to more modern songs like “Black Fire” and “Malevolent”.

And whoever is writing the lyrics does an amazing job.

So often with European bands who have English as a second language miss the mark when writing lyrics.  These guys excel at the lyrics, very insightful and they avoid any cliche’s never sound like they’re forcing the words.

Now, on to the guitarist Bjørnar Marthinsen.  He’s an amazing player, obviously classically trained or influenced, but much like the vocals, he fits to the style of the song.  Yes, I hear some Malmsteen and Blackmore in the solos, but it’s used sparingly. I think his playing has a lot of heart and soul to it, it gives the songs life and blends perfectly with the vocals.

And of course, you can have the greatest singer, guitarist and keyboardist in the world, but it they don’t have the right backbone they will just sound average. Bassist Morgan Lunde and drummer Tom Erik Christensen provide a massive and solid rhythm section to the music.  They almost perform and sound like one unit. Both players can go balls out too but they remain within the songs and add that punch to make the songs jump out of the speakers.

All in all I’m very impressed with the band and the songs. If you’re still wondering what they sound like, well, it’s not easy to to say they sound like any one band. I guess they lean towards a more modern Metal band with great melodies. The music has a great groove and you find yourself immersed in the songs.  The subject matter is often pretty deep and the music can lean towards progressive.  Other than that, I can’t make an honest comparison to one band, which is a compliment btw, it’s hard to stand apart from the pack nowadays.

Perhaps it’s easier if you just support the band and buy the music:

Cato Johansen – Vocals
Bjørnar Marthinsen – Guitars
Morgan Lunde – Bass
Tom Erik Christensen – Drums
Øivind Kaspersen – Keyboards

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