Black Cobra Welcomes You to a Wintry Hell With Invernal
(Southern Lord Recordings)
Say what you will, but South Florida loves all of its children, whether they live here or not. I can't think of a better example of this at the moment than the almighty duo of Black Cobra. And that's not just because album opener "Avalanche" is hacking away at my rapidly deteriorating hearing this instant.
Currently calling San Francisco home, this band features the talents of drummer and multi-instrumentalist and ex-Acid King and 16 player Rafael Martinez and ex-Cavity axman Jason Landrian on guitar and vocals.
From their introduction into the world of savage music in 2001, Black Cobra has toed a thin line among the realms of punk/hardcore, sludge, and all-out metal destruction. Needless to say, this is a line that has blurred frequently through its releases, like 2006's Bestial and 2007's Feather and Stone (both recordings for At a Loss Records) before switching to Southern Lord with 2010's Chronomega.
Naturally, any kind of follow-up for that label would have to up the ante a few fucking notches, and it's done so in grandiose fashion and in a span of eight tracks and slightly under the 40-minute mark. Here we have a rich tapestry of furious leads, growls that soar, and militarily precise drumming so good that you'll forget there is no bass guitar.
While the cover art and the wintry desolation of the album title might lead one into believing this is the realm of erudite metal with tinges of classic literature and obscure D&D references, be warned: While the subject matter is certainly darker than in previous forays, these guys stick to their musicianship easier than where the lyrics might lead. Even the solemn intro to "Corrosion Fields" evanesces into full-on hardcore battery.
Knowing when to hold back is as much an asset as knowing when to drive your fist through somebody's face, and it is best embodied in the quasi-pop of "Beyond," an excellent halfway marker for this delicious slab. The back nine follow suit with blasts like "Erebus Dawn" and the closer "Obliteration," which truly obliterates in a bizarre amalgam of D-beat, power violence and thrash that makes me feel fifteen years younger. Also in there is the beautiful instrumental track "Abyss."
While some bands do well sitting around with their bongs and big-haired whores lapping it up, these industrious South Floridians spend most of the year in the van and they'll be featured soon at the Tone Deaf Showcase at SXSW at the Dirty Dog Bar in Austin as well as at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands in April. Did I mention that this is also available in the full glory of vinyl? Featuring cover art by Sam Ford and recorded by Converge's Kurt Ballou, this is one disc you'd be a duncy sap to pass over.