Black Cobra


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Ever the Rodney Dangerfields of the rock & roll band hierarchy (i.e. "no respect!"), bass players are now faced -- in the third millennium's first decade, anyhow -- with the far grimmer prospect of being completely excluded from the band, man! Then again, in the world of heavy metal, where basslines so often do little more than double the guitar parts, one can sort of make a case for adequately amplified guitar/drum duos like Black Cobra, who have made quite a racket for themselves so far, thank you very much, with their first pair of releases through At a Loss Recordings -- so much so that their third effort, 2009's Chronomega, finds them graduating to the mighty Southern Lord label and, one would assume, the chance of obtaining wider exposure and recognition for their savage brand of sludge-thrash. As on previous releases, the bottom end normally provided by that absent four-string instrument is hardly missed, thanks to the deafening distortion framing Albert Landrian's (ex-Cavity) saber-toothed riffs and Rafael Martinez's (also of Acid King) battle drums. Together, the pair propels violent juggernauts such as "Negative Reversal," "Machine," and the utterly devastating "Storm Shadow" (like Motörhead with rabies!) forward like sonic battering rams. Yet there are still innumerable power chord counterpoints, weaving harmonies, and creepy melodies spread across these and other songs (e.g., "Lighting in His Hand," "Nefarian Triangle"), rattling one's wisdom teeth enough to make this set anything but one-dimensional. Heck, on the particularly surprising "Chronosphere," Black Cobra even get a groove on for arguably the first time in their career, igniting a dancefloor mosh-off that would leave Queens of the Stone Age bruised and bleeding. Really, the only criticism that could justifiably be leveled at Black Cobra is that their gloriously vicious cacophony still poses something of a welterweight division challenge to metallic heavyweights High on Fire (shared producer Billy Anderson is likely partly to blame/praise for this). On the other hand, it's equally debatable whether HoF have produced very many songs in recent years that are quite as memorable and ferociously focused as these, so consider this grounds for a battle royal, or give Black Cobra their due, because Chronomega is one of those albums that simply won't be denied.

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