Black Cobra – Invernal
Release: 2011Oct11 (US)
Label: Southern Lord
A large portion of my yesterday was spent listening to ‘Black’ bands: Black Cobra started off, followed by Black Sabbath, Black September, The Black Dahlia Murder, BlackWolfGoat, Brainoil (perhaps black in color?), and Book of Black Earth. Everything except Sabbath felt awash in samey-ness, but I wanted to return to Black Cobra, since I really liked Chronomega. Once again, we have another album that’s helped by headphones. This isn’t to say the album has weak riffs or anything; quite the contrary, Invernal is muscular, relentless, and aggressively driving.
I’ve compared Black Cobra with Big Business in the past, and I’ll do it again. Just as Chronomega felt like the logical progression from Here Come the Waterworks, that progress furthers fuels Invernal. They switched from producer Billy Anderson to Kurt Ballou—both notable noisemongers. And while I can’t exactly pinpoint distinct differences between the two, it’s good to hear this band seek new ways to develop their stripped-down delivery. The key is to sound full yet complicated, accentuate the chaos, and direct the listener through the din.
Together for a decade now, guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafael Martinez have churned out four full-length albums of increasing sophistication: two for At a Loss Recordings, and this marks the second for Southern Lord. Black Cobra now seem sonically closer to recent tourmates High on Fire. Besides the riff-building influence, they have taken badass lyric-writing cues as well, and built the album’s theme around post-apocalyptic Antarctic expeditions, inspired by explorer Ernest Shackleton. I feel like I can use “epic” here without sounding like a jackass…plus I’ve always had a high standard for that word. And speaking of words, Invernal = awesome. It’s actually defined as something like “wintry”, but because of the subject matter, it’s stronger interpreted as “without spring”. Since I’ve spoken with Rafa about their last album, maybe we can discuss the inner meanings of this one, too.
Oh, and on one last random note, every time “Abyss” starts, I think of “Wishlist” by Pearl Jam.
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02. Somnae Tenebrae
03. Corrosion Fields
04. The Crimson Blade
06. Erebus Dawn