The Nine Circles ov…Black Cobra

Black Cobra

The news of Los Angeles based Black Cobra signing with Season of Mist and working on new material to be released this year is, by now, old. Not much in the way of updates since but with their impending tour with YOB, COC and Brant Bjork, which I am beyond stoked to see, my recent binges of their material have been epic. I felt like sharing some of my favorites. With that said, I bring you the Nine Circles ov… Black Cobra

Black Cobra has released four full lengths since their inception in 2001. Their last release Invernal has been out now for four years, so for me any news of new material is welcoming. With only two members, and no bass guitar, the band plays a wickedly loud combination of sludge and noise laced with a huge hit of speed and aggression. If you’re not familiar with them, now is your chance…

“Thrown From Great Heights” (Bestial, 2006)

When the hyper speed hit my ears it was immediate aural ecstasy. Couple that with the sludgy sound and plodding pace that followed and I knew I had stumbled onto something that would scratch that Eyehategod on uppers itch. Moments of powerviolence and grind are sprinkled in that make for a breakneck leading track and intense first experience.

“Dragon and Phoenix” (Feather and Stone, 2007)

Opening with drenching feedback before sliding into a High On Fire gallop, this one is pure ear candy. There are a couple of quieter passages here that show a side of the band not apparent on their debut.

“Negative Reversal” (Chronomega, 2009)

When I reference anyone to the band for a first listen, their third full length is my go to. Mostly due to this opening track. Their spin on the noise genre has been an underlying ambiance in the past but here it takes a front seat. If play counts are the measure of favorites, this one would be near the top.

“Somnae Tenebrae” (Invernal, 2011)

Personally I believe this is Rafael Martinez’s finest drum performance. Then there’s the wall of low end crunch of the guitars that, still, has me wondering if they aren’t sneaking a bass in somewhere. This one is more of a rocker.

“Lightning in His Hand” (Chronomega, 2009)

The sludgy guitar playing set at a pulse quickening speed, that by this point is the band’s signature, rises and falls in intensity. The longer than usual pauses between riffs really creates a feeling of dreadful expanse, probably more so than any other on this list. The vocals from Landrian have an immediacy in their delivery, half growls and half screams.

“Omniscient” (Bestial, 2006)

I keep bringing this up but the bombast of the guitar in the opening minutes sounds exactly like a bass guitar driven by Lemmy. Nowhere else is it this apparent as it commands the spotlight throughout, even over the crashing cymbals.

“Red Tide” (Feather and Stone, 2007)

Yet another complete wall of intense sound here. Glimmers of punk attitude shine through as do moments of soul crushing doom. The opening guitar salvo reminds me of Kill ’em All Metallica before moving to vicious hardcore pacing. The musicianship of these two is staggering as they move effortlessly from fast and vicious to plodding doom.

“Corrosion Fields” (Invernal, 2011)

Not the first time the band has used elements of doom, particularly since the last track featured doom, but here it is a focal point.  One thing I’ve always liked about the band is their ability to take short tracks and really stretch them out, taking a page from the jam playbook.

“Nefarian Triangle” (Chronomega, 2009)

The acoustic opening of this album’s closer is yet another surprise the band had hidden up its sleeve. Walls upon walls of distortion make it even more difficult to fathom that it’s just the two of them. Really though, as heard in the playlist below, two members are all it takes to completely level your ear drums.

– Josh

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