Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sunday Sludge: Black Cobra - "Invernal"
Alright, kids... Finish picking out the skin from underneath your fingernails and let's talk about what we just heard. This is Invernal, Black Cobra's fourth LP and first since 2009's Chronomega. I'm sure you're all still a little stunned, a shade confused, and perhaps completely fucking drained. Let's stay focused and steer this Sunday Sludge so we can all go home, lick our wounds, and hope tomorrow's less overwhelming.
Bookended by two of the fastest, filthiest tracks in Black Cobra's catalog, these eight poison darts leave no ambiguity in Black Cobra's position as one of America's premiere metal acts. Jason Landrian and Rafael Martinez seemingly place every note, every sound exactly where they were originally envisioned. What results is a brutal attack of skull-denting sludge (with a whisper of doom) caked with still-steaming shit. If you haven't already checked out this disc, decorate your evening with a bottle of anything and keep the aloe nearby.
Balancing the thick and the quick is second nature for Black Cobra, immediately evidenced by Avalanche's swarm of locusts hitting your heels on a downhill. That the band can balance such precision with such flurry is staggering. As riffs escalate and encompass everything in sight, the double kick-drum throttles your chest and scares the shit out of your pets. Landrian's vocals summon Al Jourgensen's caged challenges, marking the whole of the song as exhausting.
Where Avalanche fades out, Somnae Tenebrae immediately stomps in. Pairing impressive fretwork with rhythmic stamina, the blistering sludge creeps and swallows like an unidentifiable black mist. A muddy grind does its best to steal the spotlight, but the ribbon of spiked riffs is absolutely undeniable. Obliteration finishes the disc (and likely finishes everything else), as the band establishes they're done fucking around. The hi-hat swarm of arrows nicks our helmets and we're left with no option but to tap out. If we don't, who knows what Black Cobra may do.
Corrosion Fields begins as a tentative piss-break, but you'd be a fool to miss where the listener's quickly led. The subdued, doomy fuzz submits to crushing, crunchy chainsaw grind. Guitars are laser-precise and vocals do more to seep rather than saturate. This is an increasingly deliberate chug of the finest, grimiest order. Clean licks introduce The Crimson Blade, though buzz-laden doom riffs drop to leave listeners bleeding in the alley. Grinding, chopping, and churning out black smoke sludge, the track builds on its own successes with shifting tempos and effects. Guitars flick spent ash in your eyes, the groove gets cool, and deathbed picking marries feedback fadeout to carry us away.
Hollow corridor echoes on the awesome Beyond are slammed with frantic, pounding tempos to spread the album's best song. Gears lock up at halfway, but don't think you can lift your head just yet. The pregnant, smoldering pause lulls you into a coma until a return to distemper bludgeons your ears, your expectations, and your thoughts on how an epic metal track should unfold. Erebus Dawn comes out spitting blood as Martinez holds a drum clinic. Landrian's guitar walks past the trees to have a smoke and provide parity. The instrumental Abyss drops sludge with freedom and frequency after uneven signatures and doom atmospheres had us thinking we'd go in a much different direction. Imagine an old man staring at a sea of faded passions and unmet potential. I suppose Abyss would be his soundtrack.
You probably love reserving your Sunday to relax, clean the vomit from your car's upholstery, or watch the Jets pretend to play football. Forget it. This riff-oriented collection is far too immense and far too fast to serve as background music while you wash dishes. Give it your full attention. Let it wear you out like the drunk whore at your block party, and make sure you ask for seconds. Invernal will burn and blister, but it's gonna heal a lot better than the stupid tribal tattoo you just sat through.
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