Track By Tracks: Cornea - Apart (2021)

Apart is a peculiar debut album, not only because it’s a record that breaks a lot of cliches, both sonically and graphically, but also because it had a really hard gestation, like a child who struggled to be born. The record tells tales of suffering, separation, strain, loss and oblivion through the destroying force and bittersweet lullabies inspired from mother nature. The band Cornea was founded by guitarist Nicola Mel in 2015, exactly five years before the release of Apart. Five years of concerts, line up changes, personal troubles, illness, it was almost like the whole cosmo wanted to halt this project, but the band kept believing and eventually in 2020, with a line up composed by Andrea Greggio on drums, Sebastiano Pozzobon on bass guitar and Nicola Mel on guitars and synths, Apart was ready to be published and like it wasn’t already enough, the pandemic happened.

This child was kicking so hard inside the band’s metaphorical womb, and even if releasing a debut album during the Covid-19 outbreak was intimidating and frightening, the band went on and bravely released Apart on the 16th of April, 2020.

A gift to escape:

Being locked down in our homes felt like being imprisoned, and the desire to escape grew bigger everyday during the first wave of the pandemic. When Apart was released, the band publicly stated it was “their gift to let people escape” (metaphorically of course), and it delivers.

Apart is an adventure, a journey, it has the ability to take the listener by hand and let him travel in a world made of primitive and veracious emotions, stemming from the band’s psychedelic roots, ending in thunderous heavy post rock. There is something about this record that feels familiar, it just resonates within, without being pompous or too complicated, it translates perfectly those thematics of separation and alienation from reality and the loss of something significant.

Cornea live at Psycho Fest 2017

Apart is not only about grief though, the sound is bittersweet, melancholic, and yet there is hope at the end of the journey.

What is evident straightaway from listening to Apart is that this record is not the classic post rock album infused with layered tremolo picking guitars and long songs, the sound is almost reminiscent of an alternative metal mixed with shoegaze and the songs are led by iconic riffs that are catchy and effective. The initial melody of “Daydreamer” cradle the listener through a plumbeous scenery, the monolithic riffs of “Kingdom” slams the listener’s face picturing an arduous pilgrimage through the desert while the pace of “Will Your Heart Grow Fonder?” feels like a racing heart, beating and suffering, asking to give all the love it has inside.

The first half of the record is already filled with different palettes of emotions, from psychedelic and blurred post rock, to gritty post metal with doom influences and swinging heavy rock galore.

The second part of the album has no fillers, every song has an identity on its own while still sounding cohesive with the rest of the record. The slow and sweet “Saltwater” is reminiscent of a bed made of flowers, but all of a sudden something goes wrong and all the sweetness crushes in a stormy and turbulent black ocean while in “Sentinels Of A Northern Sky” the band carry the listener on a tribal shoegaze trip that ends on epic screaming melodies.

The final song “Diver” is subaqueous and suspended, ending the record with heavy walls of distortion and a recurring rhythm resembling of an hammer hitting the final nails on the coffin, leaving the listener wanting more.

A visual work

The band unveil their source of inspiration and their motif quite explicitly through their motto: “We are the sound of what your eyes don’t see, play our music loud” and this clearly shows that their aim is to translate emotions and make the invisible subconscious…audible. They don’t stop there though, and through Apart’s cover artwork, the artist Nicola Mel with his monicker “A Spring Of Murder” manages to make all the aforementioned emotions visible and represented in an iconic artwork that mirrors the character of the album. No cliches, no clouds, skies or mountains, just this ancient figure opening her chest, showing an empty ribcage, like mother nature inviting you to look at the utterly unacceptable truth about the meaning of life, the union of two fragile and innocent creatures severed and interrupted, and the crown representing the division of people from other people.

There is a message in this artwork, it states that life is brutally harsh but is surrounded by delicate and beautiful things, the nature blooms and watches upon us while we wither and die and, as humans, fight and inflict pain on each other.

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