Black Cobra

Bestial

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Two years after teasing future acolytes with a cruelly brief, three-song, six-minute EP, the bicoastal duo known as Black Cobra finally found time in 2006 to reconvene and record their full-length debut, Bestial, which, by comparison, felt like a box set at half-an-hour and 11 songs. Well, not really, but there was certainly a lot more music for listeners to sink their fangs into. However, as evidenced by the divergent paths explored on its first two songs, the diverse influences fueling Black Cobra's sonic ambitions were still coming together and fighting for supremacy at this juncture. So whereas opening onslaught "One Nine" fairly self-combusts in a flaming barrage of primal riffing reminiscent of High on Fire, its sudden stops and feedback squeals midway through, plus the clashing doom/thrash contrasts presented by the ensuing "Thrown from Great Heights," all hark back to vocalist/guitarist Jason Landrian's involvement with defunct sludgecore heavyweights, Cavity. These bipolar tendencies ultimately set the tone for Bestial's consistently engaging but stylistically scattered contents, and while the utterly devastating and damn near irresistible distorto-riffs keep coming fast and furious, there's something rather snippet-like to many of these songs, making it difficult to distinguish them from one another at times. Having said that, special kudos go to the raging "Omniscient," "El Doce de Octubre." and the ominously ascending, oddly cinematic "Sugar Water" (maybe it's the nuclear-explosion intro), for showing what Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez were capable of when they actually got their focused groove on. And, as it turned out -- probably for the better, it should be noted -- Black Cobra's forward-looking and faster-paced alter ego wound up winning the battle to dictate their approach on the largely sludge-free, savagely metallic Feather and Stone mini-album of the following year, which ultimately served as their breakthrough to wider recognition.