Black Cobra

Invernal

Written by: AP on 27/12/2011 16:04:12

Judging from the ominous cover art of Black Cobra's fourth album "Invernal" - a far cry from the complex artwork of John Baizley, whose ideas seem to embellish every second sludge metal album coming out these days - there is little mainstream appeal in the band's music. Without prior knowledge of the band, one might even guess it to be the work of a classic Norwegian black metal band, with its blunt colors and freezing imagery. In fact, it is possible to discern a certain inheritance of sound from black metal, especially in the ferocity and immediacy of Black Cobra's delivery.

Indeed, Black Cobra's variant of sludge metal is ugly, dark and unfathomably heavy, such that any reference to the facers of the genre - Baroness and Kylesa - is irrelevant. Songs like "Avalanche" and "Somnae Tenebrae" signify what sludge metal used to sound like before the mainstream caught the whim; when it was defined by a perpetual feeling of doom and delivered with the utmost appreciation for dire sounding, yet oddly groove laden low-range riffs. Indeed, when thinking about a word that describes the atmosphere elicited by "Invernal" most succinctly, it was this word, dire, which encompasses dread, misfortune, despair and urgency, that seemed to encapsulate the essence of what Black Cobra are trying to achieve with this album.

There are of course numerous other groups practicing in this particularly murky corner of sludge metal, but none with a comparable affection for filth. There are subtle nods toward Bison b.c., High on Fire and early Mastodon in the fast pounding rhythm sections and dense groove of "Beyond", "Erebus Dawn" and "Obliteration", while "Corrosion Fields", "The Crimson Blade" and "Abyss" mimic the melodic obscurity of Kongh and YOB; but even so there is never a feeling of idolatry or plagiarism. Black Cobra sound as unique as is possible within the confines of a small underground niche.

Even though sludge metal is typically not my genre of preference, given that few bands in the genre have made a genuinely lasting impression on me, I have a difficult time resisting the allure of "Invernal". Whether it is the murky production, brooding guitar tone, or the sheer unforgiving nature of it all, Black Cobra seem to have hit the nail on the head with regard to how sludge metal is supposed to sound: dirty, down-tuned and heavy as fuck.

Download: Avalanche, Somnae Tenebrae, The Crimson Blade, Erebus Dawn, Abyss
For the fans of: High on Fire, Kongh, early Mastodon, YOB
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.10.2011
Southern Lord Records

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