The Depths Below reviewed at Angry Metal Guy

Pretty decent review, although it’s safe to say that this writer didn’t dig the song “Dead Planet” 🙂

Cortez – The Depths Below Review
By Dr. A.N. Grier On July 1, 2017

It’s occurred to me that when I go stoner, more times than not, I tend to lean against bands just west of me. Bands like Kyuss, Sleep, High on Fire—all residing in sunny California. Funnily enough, my favorite stoner outfit is all the way out in England [That’s east of you, Magellan. – Steel]. Hell, if you were to look at my stoner collection, you’d think Orange Goblin was an outlier and that stoner metal was an American thing. And my review of Temptation’s Wings newest record wouldn’t challenge that assumption. And now, the stoner bug has bitten old Grier once again. I desire something that’ll make my eyes puffy, my ears happy, and chill me the fuck out. Cue Cortez and their newest release, The Depths Below. I bet you’ll never guess where these doomy stoners are from…

… Boston; that’s where [That’s east too. Get thee a Garmin. – Steel]. Five years ago, this quintet released a fine self-titled debut, chock-full of chunky riffs, killer grooves, lots of good swearing (“Anything that bleeds, can fucking die!”), and hooks galore. It’s a fun record that chugs, sweeps, and swoons with a classic combination of doom and stoner. On the surface, it’s got riffs that hit hard like Orange Goblin, distorted sludge akin to Down and Corrosion of Conformity, and rocking cleans with gruffs that remind me of Brand New Sin. The result is a band just as much rock as they are doom and stoner. And their hooking songwriting proves that.

But, for how much I like Cortez, I like The Depths Below just a touch more. Because of their songwriting approach, there is a great demand on the vocals to shine as much as the guitars. Thankfully, Matt Harrington doesn’t disappoint, delivering his best performance to date. Also, the new record avoids feeling too long—something Cortez couldn’t quite avoid. What’s funny is that The Depths Below has a longer runtime than its predecessor. With careful consideration, the band has crafted lengthy songs like “The Citadel (In the Shadows of Ancients part II),” “Kill Your Ghosts,” and “Orison” to be concise and memorable. But, that doesn’t mean this album is any less diverse than the debut. In fact, it’s even more so.

For road-trip-ready numbers that’ll have you belting repetitious choruses down the freeway, go no further than “All Gone Wrong” and “To the Skies.” For some heavy riffage, be sure to check into the finale of the mid-album trilogy, “In the Shadows of Ancients.” For some sinister groove, whose chugs are ever-exaggerated by its The Sword-like layered vocals, rap at the door of the “Poor and Devoid.” Need some slow-burning groove, with even more old-school vibes thrown in? Then you can’t go wrong with album nightcap, “Orison.” Though these individual descriptions might lead one to believe this album is a clusterfuck of dissimilarities, uniformity does exist.

The song, though, that tops them all would have to be the second part of the “In the Shadows of Ancients” trilogy: “The Citadel.” Most of the song takes on a slow, moody pace that allows Harrington’s vocals to soar high. Then he unleashes some serious gruff when the chorus hits. Along the way, the drums pick up a tribal tone and the stoner-esque guitar solos cap its bass-led interlude. The song concludes with riffs that’ll dry up and crack the mirk below your feet. Unfortunately, the conclusion to the trilogy, “Blood of Heirs,” doesn’t quite capture the power of its predecessor to close out these three tracks. It’s not a bad song, but it feels forced and its underwater chorus just doesn’t click with me. Similar vocal effects are found on “Kill Your Ghosts,” but its psychedelic introduction, melodic qualities, and olde-school ’70s character fit them like a glove.

And then we come to “Dead Channel.” It’s so out-of-place on the record that I’m still trying to decide if I like it or not. Between its in-your-face vocals (that sit somewhere between the poetic angst of Project 86 and rap metal), a mid-song riff straight from everyone’s favorite ’96 Metallica record, and a chorus that sounds like the crying baby of Volbeat and The Sword. It’s fucking weird.

I’d say Cortez‘ debut is a livelier set of tracks, but The Depths Below is a better set of songs. At times, the album is all over the place, but it manages to keep itself together. But, without closer “Orison” behind “Dead Channel,” I’m not sure I could say that. This Black Sabbath-loving doom piece builds until it drives the final nail into the casket. I wouldn’t say The Depths Below is the most original record out there, but its got a classic vibe that many will find pleasing.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Salt of the Earth Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: June 30th, 2017

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The Depths Below released!

The day is finally upon us. The wait is over. We have finally given birth to our long gestating album “The Depths Below”. Nine songs clocking in at 44 minutes with cover art by the incomparable David Paul Seymour. You can download the digital album directly from our Bandcamp page or order physical copies from our record label SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS. We will also have copies for sale at our album release show on July 8 at O’Brien’s.

“…Their reputation as songwriters is well established going back a decade to their 2007 Buzzville Records-issued Thunder in a Forgotten Town EP, and it’s that core of craftsmanship that allows them to go where they will sonically across this material. Despite several distinct sonic turns both early and late in the proceedings, Cortez remain in complete control of their direction, and so guide their listeners skillfully from front to back.”
-JJ Koczan / The Obelisk

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The Depths Below reviewed on Outlaws Of the Sun

Had the privilege of checking out the amazing new album from Boston based stoner/grunge band Cortez entitled The Depths Below. I understand the term “grunge” can make some get that prickly feeling inside, but I use it with the utmost of love and respect. As a guy turning 40 (good lord….) this summer, I grew up musically in the midst of the grunge explosion. If you do the math I was 14 years old when Nevermind came out.

But I digress, to the band at hand. This Cortez album is a definite rock monster. The band wears their musical hearts on their sleeves and do absolute justice to the influences you hear in all of the songs. You can hear elements of certain bands in just about every song, but Cortez manages to have a sound all their own.

Goddamit if their isnt an almost John Garcia/Kyuss like “Well alright” that kicks off the album opener All Gone Wrong. This track rips with a definite desert/stoner rock vibe. Poor and Devoid follows with a bit more of the grunge based influence. There are times when it sounds musically, like the more rocking moments of Alice In Chains. The next three songs are part of a sort of musical trilogy called In the Shadows of Ancients.

The first is the song Walk Through Fire which features a killer driving chorus. The second part is the excellent The Citadel which shows the band slowing it down a bit in the intro and features some flourishes of acoustic guitar before closing with a big rocking outro. The trilogy closes with Blood of Heirs, which has a more old school metal feel. I may be wrong, but I swear I felt a bit of Motörhead in this one.

To the Skies is a rocker that has just a touch of Doom to it. That feeling gets revisited a bit later on. Next is Kill Your Ghosts which has a somewhat post grunge/90’s modern rock feel due to the tempo before it takes a turn to stoner rock. Dead Channel carries on the mix of stoner rock and grunge with a killer chorus on this monster. The record closes with Orison which is an amazing Doom-grunge combination. Kind of a first to me, but I dig it.

The Depths Below is a mighty record. Whatever genre of rock you dig, you shouldnt have an issue getting down with Cortez. The songs are tight. It is well recorded and rocking. The vocals are excellent throughout. Their is plenty of driving guitars and killer solos. Rock fans will not be disappointed. Get down with Cortez!!
– Todd S

Read the review at Outlaws Of the Sun

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The Depths Below review at Riff Relevant

(By Damon Gravitoyd, Guest Contributor/Writer,

With their most recent offering ‘The Depths Below‘, Cortez takes it further down to delve into a
dark pool of possibilities. Shine your eyes across a review of the new album and hear an audio
stream of their first single, “Walk Through Fire”.

Cortez have been around the block (or ten). Since 2006, this Boston brigade of five has been
no stranger to writing songs born of heavy. With Matt Harrington on lead vocals, the dual
guitar work of Alasdair Swan and Scott O’Dowd, bass and vocals from Jay Furlo, and new
drummer Alexei Rodriguez, Cortez has come screaming back with a vengeance.

Their aggressive release “The Depths Below”, via Salt of the Earth Records, shows Matt’s vocals
are strong and lend his capable voice to the razor-sharp riffs and runs that claw forth out of
the guitars of Alasdair and Scott.

Jay Furlo’s relentless bass lines are hammering and focused. His low-end rumblings form the
backdrop in which Swan and O’Dowd release their melodious hooks. All the while, the utter
lambasting of the skins serves to punctuate the story, as it unfolds song by song and enforces
the tales of depth and understanding.

Cover artwork by David Paul Seymour

This album’s subtleties insinuate through note and word, at times with sword to throat. Either
way, ‘The Depths Below‘ evokes powerful imagery.

When Salt of the Earth Records signed Cortez last year, they signed a band that had been
working together as a unit for four years. Rodriguez signed on as the new drummer earlier this
year in 2017 (replacing Jeremy Hemond, who performed all drum tracks recorded on ‘The
Depths Below‘). Guitarist Alasdair Swan had already been onboard for four years and frontman
Matt Harrington for eight.

Scott O’Dowd and Jay Furlo, guitar and bass respectively, represent a full decade of the
band’s history. New drummer Alexei Rodriguez is no rookie, as his résumé can attest with his decades of experience refined with the likes of Catharsis, Prong, 3 Inches of Blood, and Walls
of Jericho, to name a few.

This band has the chops to pull off a very good album… and they do just that right here with
“The Depths Below”.

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The Depths Below reviewed on The Obelisk

Cortez, The Depths Below: Blood Through the Citadel

A difference of intent behind the new Cortez album is signaled immediately through the artwork. Where their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) featured an Alex Von Wieding cover of a monstrous, armor-clad version of their namesake (who was also kind of a monster, actually) with red eyes and a laser being shot from his hand as he stands in outer space, The Depths Below opts for altogether deeper-toned fare. Drawn by David Paul Seymour, the front-piece for the Boston quintet’s sophomore outing, which is delivered via Salt of the Earth Records, features a horned dragon facing off in an underwater landscape with what seems to be a naked, neutered Aquaman-style character. Still in a comic style, its stark contrast of colors — blue, green, orange — speak more to harsh edges than than the kind of straightforward heavy rock which Cortez are known to proliferate.

But therein lies the key, because The Depths Below also greatly expands the scope of what Cortez accomplish sound-wise. Comprised of vocalist Matt Harrington, guitarists Scott O’Dowd and Alasdair Swan, bassist/backing vocalist Jay Furlo and drummer Alexei Rodriguez (though Jeremy Hemond plays here), Cortez touch on varied forms of classic metal throughout The Depths Below‘s nine-track/44-minute run and offer a few surprises along the way. They’ve never really been a touring band, but their reputation as songwriters is well established going back a decade to their 2007 Buzzville Records-issued Thunder in a Forgotten Town EP, and it’s that core of craftsmanship that allows them to go where they will sonically across this material. Despite several distinct sonic turns both early and late in the proceedings, Cortez remain in complete control of their direction, and so guide their listeners skillfully from front to back.

That’s fortunate, because they lead the way through some surprisingly dark places. With a notably spacious recording and mix by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak, Q Division and Moontower Recording Studio, a chug-plodder like second cut “Poor and Devoid” and the atmospheric spirit of “The Citadel” and closer “Orison” come through as particularly open-feeling despite their underlying structure. And even more uptempo movements like opener “All Gone Wrong” — heck of a title to start with — and its later companion-piece “To the Skies” have a moodier feel, the latter keeping a rhythmic swing behind near-militaristic layers of lead and rhythm guitar in its second half, Harrington seeming to take influence from Lo-Pan‘s Jeff Martin in his vocal presentation. A significant portion of The Depths Below‘s overall impact comes from its included three-parter, which follows “All Gone Wrong” and “Poor and Devoid” and seems to tell a story through “Walk Through Fire (Part I),” “The Citadel (Part II)” and “Blood of Heirs (Part III),” the last of which also plays a crucial role as the centerpiece of the tracklisting and (presumably) the end of a vinyl-style side A.

The three pieces act as a sort of album-within-the-album, and move from the aggressive thrust of “Walk Through Fire,” which roughs up mid-’90s chugging and adds gang vocals to its hook before a harmonized solo leads past the halfway point and into the even-more-thrashing back end of the track, setting up a contrast with the slower, ambient fluidity of “The Citadel” — a highlight of The Depths Below as a whole, but also arguably its darkest single moment, working back and forth through a downtrodden-feeling chorus toward a tempo pickup in the final third. It’s the longest inclusion at just over seven minutes, and again, is anchored by Cortez‘s songwriting in such a way as to allow for a fluid transition into the thrashing “Blood of Heirs.” One wonders if “Blood of Heirs” especially and some of the more generally metallic-feeling songs here have their root in O’Dowd‘s seemingly-defunct or at very least currently inactive other outfit, Black Thai, but either way, it would be hard to argue the shift in approach doesn’t suit Cortez, and so I won’t.

Part of that stems from overall progression of the band, though Harrington‘s vocal performance is especially noteworthy and he brings considerable frontman presence even to this studio output, whether that’s from deep in the mix of “The Citadel” or in topping the march of “To the Skies,” which leads off side B of The Depths Below with a return-to-ground hook that brings the listener back to a starting point similar to “All Gone Wrong” without directly aping that track’s impression. Each cut from here on out makes a decidedly distinct statement of who Cortez are as a band, whether it’s the grungier, somewhat melancholic heavy rock (again Lo-Pan seem to be a reference point) of “Kill Your Ghosts,” or the penultimate “Dead Channel,” which so directly calls out River Runs Red-era Life of Agony that it finds Harrington coming very, very close to rapping in a ’90s urban post-hardcore style, or the aforementioned closer “Orison,” which harmonizes over a more doomed vibe and broods its way toward a more active, chugging finish, very much a complement to “The Citadel” the way “To the Skies” seemed to speak to “All Gone Wrong.”

These changes in intent are no less striking than the sharp visual impression of Seymour‘s cover art, but once more, it’s Cortez‘s skill as songwriters that allows them to shift so drastically and still maintain their hold on their audience. Even parts that one doesn’t think of as “hooks” as an alternate word for “chorus,” whether it’s a standout riff, or bassline, or lyric manage to leave the listener with a memorable landmark — to say nothing of “Dead Channel,” on which the entire song itself becomes the standout — and that forms the basis of what Cortez ultimately bring to The Depths Below. As a group, they’ve never needed anything more than that to make their point, and they don’t here, but five years after their debut, it’s worth noting the multi-tiered development that’s taken place corresponding to their craft. They’re still very much a heavy rock band, and one suspects they always will be, but Cortez are brazenly pushing themselves to try new things on The Depths Below, and in direct contrast to the title, the results only seem to bring them to new heights of achievement.

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CORTEZ release new single; announce release date for The Depths Below

Boston, MA heavy rockers CORTEZ release the digital single “Walk Through Fire” in advance of their new album The Depths Below. The single features artwork by Joe Keinberger and is available via the CORTEZ bandcamp page:

CORTEZ’ sophomore full length The Depths Below will be released via Salt Of the Earth Records on CD and digital formats on June 16, 2017. The band’s first full length since the 2012 self-titled, features nine songs and clocks in at 45 minutes. Running the gamut from heavy rock to NWOBHM-influenced metal songs, The Depths Below is sure to surprise some longtime fans of the band with its variety. The Depths Below was recorded and mixed by Benny Grotto (Scissorfight, Orange Goblin, Worshipper) at three different studios (Q Division, Mad Oak, and Moontower Recording) and was mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering. The cover art for The Depths Below is courtesy of David Paul Seymour.

For preorders, visit:

The Depths Below Track Listing:

1. All Gone Wrong
2. Poor And Devoid
3. Walk Through Fire
4. The Citadel
5. Blood Of Heirs
6. To The Skies
7. Kill Your Ghosts
8. Dead Channel
9. Orison


Matthew Harrington – vocals
Scott O’Dowd – guitar, backing vocals
Alasdair Swan – guitar
Jay Furlo – bass, backing vocals
Alexei Rodriguez – drums

Jeremy Hemond performed all drums on The Depths Below.

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New show!

We’re heading back to 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, MA on May 20th. We will be playing with Left Lane Cruiser, Crowrider, and Bottlefight. This should be a rager! Hope to see some friends.

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Cortez Announce New Drummer

Cortez would like to officially announce the addition of our new drummer, Alexei Rodriguez. Alexei comes to us with vast experience – having played drums in such bands as Catharsis, Prong, 3 Inches Of Blood, among others. We are extremely excited about the future of Cortez and can’t wait to start recording new material. Alexei’s live debut with Cortez will be on May 20, 2017 at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, MA.

Cortez’ new album The Depths Below will be released in June on Salt Of the Earth Records. In anticipation of the album’s release, we will release a digital single of the song “Walk Through Fire” in May.

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Cortez sign with Ripple Music

Hey all, as Ripple Music announced earlier, we have signed to be included on an upcoming volume of their “Second Coming Of Heavy” split album series. We couldn’t be happier! More to come.


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Cortez sign with Salt Of the Earth Records

We’ve signed with Salt Of the Earth Records for the release of our new album “The Depths Below”. We’ll let you all know as soon as the release date has been confirmed.


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